By: Aug. 30, 2019


ASCAP Award-winning writer/producer Chip Deffaa's latest CD, "The Irving Berlin Duets Album"--featuring such Broadway notables as Stephen Bogardus ("Bright Star"), Jon Peterson ("Cabaret"), Seth Sikes ("The Band's Visit"), Giuseppe Bausilio ("Hamilton"), and more--is out now.

The album, an outgrowth of shows celebrating Berlin that Deffaa has been presenting at the venerable 13th Street Theater, features 29 Irving Berlin duets--a mix of famed numbers, rarities, and rediscoveries--including some never-before-recorded material. The album--now available from Amazon, CDBaby, ITunes, Footlight Records etc.--may be ordered, as either a physical CD or a digital download, here:

It's the 27th album Deffaa has produced, and the latest in his series re-examining the legacy of Irving Berlin. "I've written and directed several shows about Berlin--all of which have been published and are available for licensing," Deffaa notes. "And I've made it my goal to bring to light some of the lesser-known gems in the huge Berlin catalog. But this album is unique in that the idea for it actually came from Mr. Berlin himself He always wanted there to be an album consisting entirely if Berlin duets. He saw great possibilities in that. But no one ever made such an album. I've examined carefully every song in the Berlin archive--over 1,200 songs. And there are enough great numbers for three albums of duets. This CD of duets will be volume one!"

Considered to be the foremost living authority on Berlin's music, Deffaa found great joy in picking the singers and songs. "'Gee, I Wish I was Back in the Army' was a fun number that Berlin created for the movie 'White Christmas.' It was cut when they adapted the movie for Broadway. But here it's sung by Stephen Bogardus, who starred memorably in the Broadway production of 'White Christmas'--as well as a dozen other Broadway shows--and an old friend of his, Jed Peterson. I've known both of those seasoned musical-theater pros since they were teens. This is their first recording together. They work so well together, I sure hope to bring them back for more.

"Seth Sikes--the hottest singer in the nightclubs these days--joins forces with another of my all-time favorite musical-theater performers, Jon Peterson, to put across 'A Couple of Swells.' That number was long in Judy Garland's repertoire, and both Seth Sikes and Jon Peterson are great admirers of Garland; they're perfect for the number.

"Young Olivia Chun--from Broadway's 'School of Rock' and 'The King and I'--joins forces with the masterly Joan Jaffe--whose Broadway and Hollywood career got started long before Olivia was born--for a cross-generations rarity only recorded once before. Mary Cantoni, who starred in my Off-Broadway show 'One Night with Fanny Brice,' teams with Michael Townsend Wright, star of my musical comedy 'The Seven Little Foys,' to make the first recording ever of a Berlin rarity, 'Back to Italy.' Alec Deland and Gabriella Green--who impressed me so much when I first saw them co-starring in a production of 'Mack and Mabel'--have fun with 'I Hate You.' Matthew Nardozzi, a great favorite of mine since his first appearances on Broadway in "Frankenstein" and "Inherit the Wind"--is reunited with the terrific singer Emily Victoria Bordonaro to do a real rarity--'Quarrel With You'--which a not-yet-famous Fred Astaire used to do in vaudeville with his sister, Adele, when they were just kids. Jackson Demott Hill and Alex Dreier--both from Broadway's 'Finding Neverland'--give a definitive reading of 'The Schoolhouse Blues.' Jack Saleeby--currently co-starring the national tour of 'The Wizard of Oz'--teams with an old friend (and fellow 'Seven Littlle Foys' alumnus), Tyler DuBoys, on 'Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.' Beth Bartley (from Broadway's 'Fortune's Fool') teams with Keith Anderson ('Fairy Tales') for 'A Cozy Kitchenette Apartment.'"

Part of Deffaa's mission has always been to showcase rising young artists he believes are deserving of greater recognition. "This is the third album to feature young Erich Schuett, and you can follow his growth from album to album. On 'There's Something Nice About the South," we both get to have some fun with the song, which Erich puts over wonderfully. When I was Erich's age, I was taught this number by an ex-vaudevillian, Todd Fisher--a contemporary of Irving Berlin's, who used to get Berlin's songs from Berlin's office as soon as Berlin wrote them. I love passing this music along.

"Jack Corbin, a protégé of Badiene Magaziner, has as fine and true and pure a ballad voice as any teen I know, and he's in excellent form on 'When the Curtain Falls.' He's joined on that rarity by Analise Scarpaci, from Broadways' ' Christmas Story' and 'Matilda.'

"But every artist on this album has been carefully chosen, whether he's a seasoned pro I've admired for years or a rising younger performer-to-watch like Peter Charney ('The Bright and the Brave'), Luka Fric ("The Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic"), Ellis Gage ("James and the Giant Peach"), Clark Kinkade ('The Seven Little Foys'), Amy Londyn ('Lili Maarlene'), or Mark William ("Mad About the Boy"). Different singers are chosen for different strengths. There are superb younger singers in my theatrical family--like Analia Heredia, Bailey Cummings, Caroline Rose McFee, Veronica Johnson, Theron Johnson, Brianna Leigh Smail--who've got such pure, appealingly youthful voices that they're just right for certain songs. Other songs require singers with a bit more life experience, like, say, Rachel Hundert or Katherine Paulsen We've got veterans, like Stephen Bogardus, Joan Jaffe, Michael Townsend Wright, with careers of 40 years or more. And others just getting started, via appearances in Trapper Felides' showcases and such. It's all good, and it all adds to the fun. Rounding out our company on this album are Jeffrey Sewell, Logan Saby, Lawson Saby, and Logan Applin." Music direction is by Richard Danley. Slau Halatyn served as recording engineer. Frank Avellino did graphic designs. And Steve Garrin is Associate Producer.

The album is dedicated to Broadway-legend Betty Buckley, who just completed a year-long national tour in "Hello, Dolly!" Deffaa explains: "To me, Betty Buckley represents Broadway at its best. I've long held her up as a role-model for younger members of my theatrical family. They can learn a lot from her--not just performance skills, but a strong work ethic, and commitment, and making the most of whatever gifts you've got. She'll get the first copy of this album, upon release."

"The Irving Berlin Duets Album" is an outgrowth of shows about Berlin--such as "Irving Berlin's America," "Irving Berlin: In Person," and "The Irving Berlin Ragtime Revue"--that Deffaa has presented at his base in New York City, the 13th Street Repertory Theater. "I'm grateful to Edith O'Hara, the founder/original artistic director of the 13th Street Theater, for giving me carte blanche to develop shows there. This album has been a labor of love--great singers singing some great songs. " The new album--the 27th album that Deffaa has produced-- is available for purchase here:


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