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Chip Deffaa New 'Irving Berlin: Ragtime Rarities' Album Out 11/20

ASCAP Award-winning playwright/producer Chip Deffaa's latest album, "Irving Berlin: Ragtime Rarities," will be released on November 20th. The CD, featuring an all-star New York cast performing two dozen rare--and, in many cases, never-before-recorded--ragtime numbers, is the 24th CD Deffaa has produced and the tenth dealing with master songwriter Irving Berlin. The album--which will be available from Amazon, CDBaby, iTunes, Google Music Shop, Footlight Records etc--is being launched on the 20th at Deffaa's base in New York, the 13th Street Repertory Theater. The album complements shows about Berlin that Deffaa has staged at that theater.

The album opens and closes with performances by Broadway's Jon Peterson (of "Cabaret" renown), who will be portraying the famed songwriter in a new solo show by Deffaa, "Irving Berlin: In Person," opening November 13th at the 13th Street Theater. Deffaa notes: "This is not a cast album for the new show, but it's related. Irving Berlin wrote far more great songs than could ever be included in one show. So on the album you'll hear Jon singing one of the best songs from the new show--and you'll also hear him singing a 'lost' Berlin song that has never before been recorded. Jon Peterson's a tremendous favorite of mine and he has a real flair for Berlin's music.

"Berlin wrote over 1200 songs, including the scores to 18 Broadway shows and 19 Hollywood musicals. And there are a surprising number of rare, unknown, and lost songs that have some of the great Berlin magic. My goal is to produce albums that anyone who appreciates the Great American Songbook--and good theater singers--can enjoy. And we try to include a few real surprises among the songs that we hope may delight even experts and keepers-of-the-flame who already know the Berlin canon so very well--like, say, Jhon Marshall, Michael Biel, Benjamin Sears or Bradford Connor. For example, Mary Cantoni Johnson, who's played 'Fanny Brice' so memorably in shows of mine, regionally and in New York, gets to sing a song Berlin wrote for Fanny Brice that she never got around to recording.

"This is a high-spirited album, overflowing with youthful exuberance. Most of the songs on this album were written in the first five years of Berlin's career," Deffaa points out. "Berlin was young when he wrote these songs. And many of the singers on this particular album are young, in their 20s--just as was Berlin, when he wrote these songs. Oh, we have a few older seasoned veterans of Broadway, Off-Broadway, film, and TV I really like--such as Eric Johnson, Michael Townsend Wright, and Desi Waters--who are just right for certain songs.

"But so many of the songs on this particular album have a youthful feel, we've got terrific younger performers putting them over--like Matthew Nardozzi (from Broadway's 'Inherit the Wind' and 'Dracula'), Analise Scarpaci ('Matilda'), George Franklin ('A Christmas Story'), Dea Julien ('West Side Story'). Many of the singers on the album have shone in shows of my own--Emily Bordonaro, Peter Charney, and Jack Saleeby were in my 'Seven Little Foys,' for example. Mary Cantoni Johnson and Chloe Brooks starred in my 'One Night with Fanny Brice.' Timothy Thompson and Jonah Barricklo were in my 'Irving Berlin Ragtime Revue,' Katherine Paulsen was in 'Mad About the Boy.' And many more are regulars on my recording projects--Dylan Adams, Mariah Hill, Alec Deland, Jenn Spottz, Jeffrey Sewell, Julia Franklin, Ryan Muska, Magnus Tonning Riise, Katie Buddenhagen, Kelsey McCabe, Marcus Bedinger. I'm proud to have them in my informal repertory company of players." Richard Danley is music director. Frank Avellino did graphic design. Don Brown handled music preparation. Peter-Michael Marino and Lance Jonathan were aides-de-camp. Slau Halatyn served as recording engineer.

The album includes ragtime-era songs by Berlin that have never before been recorded, plus others that may have been recorded once or twice over a century ago, but have gotten lost or forgotten with the passage of time. "There's a lot of joy, a lot of vitality in these early songs of Berlin," Deffaa says. "We're having a great deal of fun doing this ongoing Berlin project! My goal is to eventually record virtually all of the unrecorded Berlin songs."

It's a busy time for Deffaa, who--in addition to launching the new album and his new show, "Irving Berlin: In Person" at the 13th Street Rep in New York City--has two other productions about to open this month in the tri-state region. Deffaa's "One Night with Fanny Brice," starring Mary Cantoni Johnson (which all features some songs by Berlin), will be at the Square Foot Theater in Wallingford, Connecticut, and Deffaa's "Irving Berlin's America," co-starring William Group and Matt Mooney, will be at O'Connell & Company, in Snyder, New York.

For more info on the new "Irving Berlin: Ragtime Rarities" album, or to pre-order a copy, please visit:

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