"I used to make fun of Pasadena all the time in my show," confesses Dale Gonyea, "just because of its name. The truth is, I never went there before. Now I love it."
Not a minute too soon. Playing through Aug. 6 at the Pasadena Playhouse is "Dale Gonyea: An American in Pasadena," which the pianist-singer-composer-wit describes as "a framework for my travels. I realize I'm pretty well-equipped to place-drop: I've been to Russia, to Vietnam, all over this country. I've just spent a year in England. When you do what I do, you have to go a lot of different places to do it."
The lessons learned from his travels?
"That there's no place like Pasadena," he deadpans. "Actually, there's no place like the place that hires you. Sure, there's some anxiety that goes with all the traveling. Like I do 'The Times Square Dance' about how to survive in New York. And 'Warren Beatty's Sister Changed My Life' is my metaphysical/L.A. section. The point is, my life is a traveling show, so the whole thing is to take advantage of it, be a tourist--even in your hometown. Wherever you are, be a tourist. Look at things fresh."
In the spirit of new experiences, don't count on hearing any material from Gonyea's last local show, "A 12 O'Clock Guy in a 9 O'Clock Town" (Canon Theatre, 1986).
"This is all brand-new stuff--I'm still writing the last two songs," says Gonyea, whose sojourn in England was spent writing and performing on the television show ". . . etc." (in the vein of "Saturday Night Live"). "I'm waiting to hear if I'm going back for another season. But that wouldn't start till January, so I've got time for a little jetting out to Pittsburgh--where I'll probably do 'An American in Pittsburgh.' " He laughs. "You have to embrace these places. If you do, they might embrace you back."