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Chip Deffaa's IRVING BERLIN: IN PERSON Cast Album Released


Legendary songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was so fanatical about his privacy that in his lifetime he prevented anyone from dramatizing his life. "They can do what they want after I'm dead," he declared. Since Berlin's passing, ASCAP award-winning writer/director Chip Deffaa has written no less than five different shows about Berlin, developing them at the 13th Street Theater in New York City.

On June 3rd, the premiere recording of Deffaa's "Irving Berlin: In Person"--the first one-man show to be published about Berlin--is being released. Following on the heels of such cast albums as "The Irving Berlin Ragtime Revue," "Theater Boys," "One Night with Fanny Brice," "The Johnny Mercer Jamboree," and "The George M. Cohan Revue," it is the 14th musical-theater album of Deffaa's to be released.

The CD, distributed by CDBaby, can be ordered here: The album is also available now from Leicester Bay Theatricals, which publishes and licenses Deffaa's musical play "Irving Berlin: In Person", and will soon be available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Music, Footlight Records, etc.

Portraying legendary songwriter Irving Berlin is Jed Peterson, who's starred in such Off-Broadway shows as "Hard Times" and "Nevsky Prospect," and has been featured on television's "Madame Secretary." Music direction is by Richard Danley. Choreography and tap are by Rayna Hirt. Hawkins Davis Gardow makes a special guest appearance. Music preparation is by Don Brown. Matthew Nardozzi and Peter Charney are assistants to the producer.

Deffaa notes: "Jed Peterson, who's portrayed historical figures ranging from Stephen Foster to Rudolf Nureyev in past stage productions in New York and regionally, has impressed me since I first saw him on stage in student productions at New York's famed LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, and at Princeton University, more than a dozen years ago. I'm always delighted to work with him."

Deffaa's one-man musical play "Irving Berlin: In Person" is one of five shows--for different-sized casts--that Deffaa has written about Berlin The others are the two-character "Irving Berlin's America," the 10-person "Irving Berlin Ragtime Revue"; "Irving Berlin & Co." (a biographical musical written for 10-12 players); and "The Irving Berlin Story" (a full-scale musical for 20 or more players). All of the shows are available for licensing. Most have been developed at Deffaa's base in New York, the 13th Street Repertory Theater, founded and operated by Edith O'Hara. Deffaa comments: "I'm really indebted to the one-and-only Edith O'Hara. Now in her 100th year, she's always given me carte blanche to do readings, workshops, and productions at her theater. There's no one in the theater community quite like her. Her mission, for some 50 years, has been to nurture new work. This album is just the latest in a long series of works that had its start at her theater."

Irving Berlin created scores for 18 Broadway shows and 19 Hollywood musicals, besides wriiting countless stand-alone pop hits. The score of "Irving Berlin: In Person" mixes Berlin standards that most everyone knows, such as "I Love a Piano" and "Alexander's Ragtime Band," with rarities and rediscoveries--including some songs that have never before been recorded--that will be new to almost all listeners.

One of the foremost authorities on Berlin's music, Deffaa went through every song in the Berlin archives--about 1500 songs in all--before selecting songs for "Irving Berlin: In Person." "I like bringing good, unknown numbers to light," Deffaa says. "And there's always an audience for Berlin's music." Deffaa's next album, after this one, "The Irving Berlin Songbook: Rare and Unrecorded Songs," will focus on never-before-recorded songs of Berlin. For more information on the premiere recording of Chip Deffaa's "Irving Berlin: In Person," or to hear sample cuts, click here:

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