Jon Peterson Opens in Chip Deffaa's IRVING BERLIN: IN PERSON
Performances begin November 13th for "Irving Berlin: In Person," written and directed by ACAP Award-winner Chip Deffaa. Jon Peterson--fresh from starring in the national tour of "Cabaret"--stars in this new solo show at New York's historic 13th Street Repertory Theater. Richard Danley is music director.
"I created this show especially for Jon Peterson. I wrote it with his specific strengths in mind--his tremendous vitality as a singer and dancer, his ability as an actor to convey equally well ebullience and poignance," notes Deffaa. "For my money, there's no greater song-and-dance man working today, and it's always a great joy to develop a show with him. This new show is a work-in-progress. We're we're still developing the property. It's a lot of fun. We hope people will come to see our take on Irving Berlin."
Deffaa previously wrote "George M. Cohan Tonight!" specifically for Peterson. For his portrayal of Cohan, Peterson was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, honored by the Drama League, and won a Bistro Award. And the show won the IRNE Award, among other honors. "George M. Cohan Tonight!"--which originally ran Off-Broadway in New York at the Irish Repertory Theater--has played countless cities in the US and abroad. Deffaa and Peterson are hoping that this new show will similarly have legs. The Asian American Television Network is covering the development of the show.
The most successful single songwriter in history, Berlin wrote more hits--and made more money--than any of his so-called competitors in the Golden Age of American Popular Song. "Irving Berlin: In Person" features such great Berlin hits as "I Love a Piano," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "When I Lost You," and "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody," along with many rarities and rediscoveries.
Producer Edith O'Hara, 100, who owns the 13th Street Theater, has long given Deffaa carte blanche to develop his projects there. Deffaa has presented several different shows about Berlin, with different sized casts, at the theater. "Berlin's music is timeless," Deffaa notes. "And his rags-to-riches story is inspiring." Berlin's family emigrated to the US from Russia when he was just a boy. Berlin had almost no formal education. He never learned to read of write music. Yet he gave the world more than 1200 songs. He created the scores for 18 Broadway shows and 19 Hollywood musicals. "Berlin's story is unique, and it fascinates me," Deffaa says.
Peterson (who's choreographing the production, in addition to starring in it) was born and raised in England. He trained with the Royal Ballet School, and made his mark in musicals on the West End, from "The Sound of Music" to "Sophisticated Ladies," before moving to the US.
Deffaa is the author of eight published books, 16 published plays, and numerous songs and articles. For 18 years, he wrote about entertainment for The New York Post. One of the world's foremost authorities on Berlin, he has produced 10 albums dealing with Berlin's music--such as "The Irving Berlin Songbook," "Irving Berlin Revisited," and "Irving Berlin Rediscovered"--with more on the way.
The prolific Deffaa will have three different productions of three different shows of his playing at various theaters this month. "Irving Berlin: In Person" will be at the 13th Street Rep in New York City. Deffaa's "One Night with Fanny Brice," starring Mary Cantoni Johnson, is currently playing at the Square Foot Theater in Wallingford, Connecticut, and Deffaa's "Irving Berlin's America," co-starring William Group and Matt Mooney, will open later this month at O'Connell & Company, in Snyder, New York.
"Come on and hear Berlin's songs--and life story," Deffaa says. "We're developing the show, Mondays and Tuesdays, in November and December, at the 13th Street Rep." As is customary at Deffaa's shows, audience members are welcome to stay for talkbacks--in which they can ask questions of Deffaa and Peterson--after the show. Kate Solomon-Tilley is Assistant Director/Stage Manager. Maryann Lopinto is Company Manager. Jonathan M. Smith and Peter Charney are handling photography/videography. Maryann Penzaro is providing production assistance. Peter Michael Marino is general counsel. Lance Jonathan is an apprentice intern. Frank Avellino/Logo Your Show is handling graphic design.
For more info or tickets, go to: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3117914