Written, arranged, and originally directed by Chip Deffaa
"Endlessly euphoric!" says The New York Times.
A hit in New York, London, Edinburgh, Seoul, and many other cities...
GEORGE M. COHAN TONIGHT! is an upbeat one-man play about Cohan–capturing in 95 fast-moving minutes the essence of the man, his music, and the fabulous era of show business he came up in. A dazzling showcase for a song-and-dance man with flair. Barbara Siegel and Scott Siegel of Theatermania hail this as show “that can play anywhere; it works in a cabaret room, in an off-Broadway theater, a regional theater, or on a college stage. Insightful, entertaining, educational and never preachy, this is a definite ‘Dandy.’”
"Peterson channels a swift, colorful portrayal of this most fiercely American musical figure. Talk about your all-around talents.... Deffaa’s book and direction are as lean and crisp as Cohan’s own shows. On or off-Broadway, as Chip Deffaa is seen as the definitive George M. Cohan biographer, Jon Peterson is proving himsel the definitive Cohan interpreter.” --Elizabeth Ahlfors, "Cabaret Scenes" magazine
“The amazing Jonny Peterson is giving a tour-de-force performance.... A charismatic charmer who also happens to be a ferocious tap-dancer with a gorgeous voice, the multi-talented Peterson has starred in several Cohan shows, all penned by Deffaa.... Peterson brings Cohan to life with such panache and style that you’ll be astonished by how much fun you’re having.”--David Hurst, "Next" magazine.
"GEORGE M. COHAN TONIGHT! is, to put it succinctly, one of the most genuinely joyous events of the current season, all the more striking for being an almost complete surprise. Jon Peterson's galvanic performance in the title role is spectacular to the point of being nearly unforgettable!"--The Irish Echo
Here's a four-minute video trailer about GEORGE M. COHAN TONIGHT! Watch Jon Peterson in action as the Man Who Owned Broadway...
“This is the most engaging one-man show I've seen anywhere in recent years--on Broadway, off-Broadway, anywhere.... This show should also do very well on the regional and college circuits.It has the feel of a winner about it. And captures a fantastic era in showbiz history. It deserves a bigger venue.... The show is subtler, more poignant, and has more depth than the oft-revived stage musical about Cohan, ‘George M.’ This is the fifth completely different Cohan show Deffaa has written, directed, and mounted in New York... And from the first performance I attended (sitting in the audience near Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, and Mercedes Ellington), I've felt I was seeing something with a bright future."--Rob Adams, StageSpace.com
"A brilliant, muti-faceted sparkler... sophisticated and amazingly thorough.... Deffaa's script is exquisite in its deceptive simplicity. Peterson is a dynamic triple threat as actor, singer, and dancer. [Peterson's] choreography is a tonic, and Deffaa's direction is seamless." --Scott Siegel, Barbara Siegel, Theatermania
"The most heartwarmng theatrical romance of the season... Peterson, a true theatrical fusion reactor, is a consummate choice for singing and dancing through Chip Deffaa's delectable early history of the Broadway musical. A ferocious tapper, a nimble singer, and a ceaselessly ingratiating presence on stage!" --Talkin' Broadway
"Musical comedy at its best! George M. Cohan himself would be dancing in the aisles!"--Joe Franklin, Bloomberg Radio
"One of the season's best solo performances!"--William Wolf, New York Calling
ANDTHE NEW YORK TIMESRAVES:
THEATER REVIEW | 'GEORGE M. COHAN TONIGHT!'
Recapturing an Old Fount of Euphoria
By GEORGE HUNKA
March 11, 2006
Before James Brown, there was George M. Cohan, at least when it comes to the label "the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business." Before his death in 1942, Cohan almost single-handedly invented the American musical comedy, writing more than 50 shows (more than 40 of them before 1920), and hundreds of songs: brash, cocky, energetic and endlessly euphoric. This also describes "George M. Cohan Tonight!," the new one-man musical starring Jon Peterson and devised by Chip Deffaa, at the Irish Repertory Theater.
Set in the prop room of a theater, the show has the spirit of Cohan rising again in Mr. Peterson, as he illustrates the details of his life in show business, punctuating his story with more than 30 songs crammed into a very taut 100-minute running time. Most theatergoers will probably think of either James Cagney or Joel Grey as the Man Who Owns Broadway, but Mr. Peterson, lanky and tall, easily erases memories of both early on as he strides across the seemingly small Irish Rep stage as if it were Radio City Music Hall. And the man can dance: you won't see a buck-and-wing like this on too many stages any more.
Mr. Deffaa, who wrote and directed, is an expert on the history of the early American musical comedy, and his carefully selected anecdotes give the audience a small lesson in American entertainment during Cohan's career, especially the pressures and pleasures of touring the vaudeville circuit. This is not a warts-and-all biography; Mr. Deffaa is too affectionate toward his subject for that (though there are hints of Cohan's many infidelities — apparently he might have shared the title "Sex Machine" with James Brown as well).
Most of the songs are Cohan chestnuts like "Over There," though the show includes a few winning rarities, especially "Night Time" and "Did Ya Ever Have One of Those Days?" Welcome back to Broadway, George: or West 22nd Street, which is close enough.
Here's a four-minute video trailer for GEORGE M. COHAN TONIGHT! Enjoy scenes from the production:
The company of "George M. Cohan Tonight!" Standing (from left to right): Jim Morgan (Set Designer), David Toser (Costume Designer), Mary Jo Dondlinger (Lighting Designer), Vince Giordano (Bassist), Sterling Price-McKinney (Musical Director), Rob Garcia (Percussionist), Rachel S. McCutchen (Production Stage Manager), Mac Smith (Lght/Sound Operator). Seated (from left to right): Ciaran O'Reilly (Producing Director of the Irish Repertory Theatre), Chip Deffaa (Playwright/Director), Jon Peterson (our Star), Charlotte Moore (Artistic Director of the Irish Repertory Theatre). (Photo by Carol Rosegg.)
Tony Award-winner Donna McKechnie, with playwright Chip Deffaa, after attending a performance of "George M. Cohan Tonight!"
Original cast album now available on Sh-K-Boom Records/Ghostlight Records: