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Articles by Chip Deffaa, Editor-at-Large

ON THE TOWN WITH CHIP DEFFAA…. January 3rd 2017

January 3, 2017

The three new albums are “The Chip Deffaa Songbook” (39 of my theater songs, from shows I’ve written over the years); “Chip Deffaa’s Irving Berlin Revisited” (featuring rare, and in many cases never-before-recorded Berlin songs–part of a series I’m doing, of Berlin rarities), and a new cast album for my show “Irving Berlin’s America,” co-starring Michael Townsend Wright and Matthew Nardozzi. I’ve never before launched three new albums at the same time. But there’s no time like the present. And I’m looking forward to exciting additional releases in 2017. I like my work. Whether I’m writing or directing a play, or running a recording session, it’s rewarding. And I get to work with people I really love. [more]

ON THE TOWN with Chip Deffaa … for November 13th, 2016

November 16, 2016

There were a number of fine performances on the stage. But the performance I enjoyed the most was given by the fellow who, I noted last year, gave the most commanding performance of any fellow I’d seen star in a college musical production anywhere in recent years, Michael Caizzi. I’d likened him to a young Zero Mostel when I reviewed his performance in “Fiddler on the Roof” at Hofstra a year ago. [more]

ON THE TOWN with Chip Deffaa …. for July 5th, 2016

July 5, 2016

I’ve always liked Andrew Keenan-Bolger's work. He was a memorable child actor, playing leads on Broadway in shows like "Beauty and the Beast" and "Seussical," when he was around 13 or 14 years old.  I admired  his sunny, open-hearted work then.  And he's even more successful today (at age 31)  as an adult--not every child actor can make such a transition. He conveys the same sort of buoyant spirit on stage now as he did when I first saw him in those  shows he did so well as a youth.. (His whole family is talented.  He and his sisters, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Maggie Keenan-Bolger, are all making their contributions to the arts.) [more]

On The Town … With Chip Deffaa .. April 4, 2016

April 8, 2016

it’s significant that Steve Martin has won five Grammy Awards for albums he’s made–two in the category of “comedy,” and three in the category of “music.” He loves to play the banjo (an instrument, incidentally, that has a prominent role, along with the fiddle, in the music we hear in “Bright Star.”) He’s collaborated with Edie Brickell on two albums. And their ongoing musical collaboration has provided the foundation and inspiration for this engrossing musical play. [more]

“ON THE TOWN WITH CHIP DEFFAA….” (February 29, 2016)    

February 29, 2016

Man! There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a brand new musical that works. I was enthralled from beginning to an end by A Bronx Tale–currently getting its world-premiere production at the Paper Mill Playhouse. From the very first moments, it simply had the feel of a winner. And I was engrossed. It’s rare, and memorable, when that happens. [more]

ON THE TOWN … with CHIP DEFFAA (Dec. 21, 2015)

December 23, 2015

It did my heart good to see Matanya Solomon dancing all-out after being pretty much sidelined as a "Nutcracker" dancer, due to injury, for the last two years. I greatly admire all good dancers for their dedication and hard work; but to not give up after being hampered for so long is extra admirable.  And he was fun as the Grandfather, making the most of the part (and interacting well with others) in the prologue (staged by Victoria Mazzarelli and Tim Melady). [more]

ON THE TOWN WITH CHIP DEFFAA…. Oct. 31st 2015

October 31, 2015

I’m glad I got to attend the opening night of “The Bandstand”–an intriguing, ambitious, original musical--at Paper Mill Playhouse. Does the show–which some are hoping may eventually go to Broadway--need work? Yes, definitely. Is it worth seeing now? Again, yes, definitely! It’s fresh, bumpy in spots, and occasionally a bit too melodramatic--but it grabbed me from the start, and held my attention throughout. There are some excellent performances. And the energy is great. [more]

ON THE TOWN with Chip Deffaa, March 31st, 2015

April 1, 2015

Of course, not everybody in the arts who has potential will stick with it. There’s a high rate of attrition in the arts. The stresses and strains of pursuing a career will be too much for many people. One must have not just talent, but energy and drive and determination, plus a certain stubborn kind of stick-to-it quality that is simply all-too-rare. And you also have to be a risk-taker, with an instinct for knowing when to move out of your comfort zone and take the chance on something that excites you, even it may appear risky. [more]

RIP, JOE FRANKLIN (March 9, 1926-January 24, 2015)

January 25, 2015

Joe helped me in countless ways over the years–more than I could detail here--and I dedicated one of the books I wrote to him. He's been a good force in my life since I was very young. I’ll miss you, Joe. I can’t imagine walking through the heart of Manhattan without stopping off to see your office at 300 West 43rd Street. [more]

Bullets Over Broadway thoughts from Chip Deffaa’s July 17, 2014 column

July 17, 2014

Some of these great old songs will be unknown to the average theater-goer of today; they are so old they might as well be new. And they are a joy to hear. What a treat it is, for example, to hear Jelly Roll Morton's "Good Old New York." This is a superior melody by a major jazz composer. It will be new to most audience-members. It's done with respect and flair. And it's a just a pleasure to hear. That number is over all too soon. [more]

Bridges of Madison County thoughts from Chip Deffaa’s July 17, 2014 column

July 17, 2014

It just seemed awfully strange to me, to hear no music from the year's best score on the Tony's–while we heard some not-very-impressive music from some shows that have not even reached Broadway yet. I wish we could have heard Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale singing something from Bridges of Madison County. You'd think the producers of the Tony Awards would realize that if the best of Broadway is represented on the broadcast, we all win. [more]

Rocky from Chip Deffaa’s July 17, 2014 column

July 17, 2014

A boxing musical? I just couldn't see it. Nor could I imagine there'd be an audience for this on Broadway. Nor could I imagine that I–who's never seen a boxing match in my life or had any interest in doing so–would enjoy such a Broadway show. But I was wrong. Thomas Meehan and Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the script (based on Stallone's famed MGM/United Artists motion picture), have done a terrific job of good old-fashioned storytelling, making us care about the fate of an underdog, a down-on-his-luck boxer. And director Alex Timbers has staged this with enormous flair. [more]

If/Then Musical review by Chip Deffaa

July 17, 2014

My own personal favorite moment in the show–and of course this is subjective, simply one person's reaction to what he witnessed–was seeing/hearing Anthony Rapp sing to Menzel that she did not have to love him; they could make a life together work, even without that. The song was unusual, and it was performed to perfection, with Rapp giving a master class in how to act in singing a song, how to interpret lyrics with utter conviction, how to make a song compelling. [more]

City Center Encores production of Jonathan Larson’s “tick, tick..BOOM!”

July 17, 2014

The audience packing City Center--whether applauding or laughing or cheering--certainly showed its enthusiasm throughout. The opening scene of "tick, tick...BOOM!" is very powerfully and economically written. I admire Larson's writing. Hearing those ticks (representing the relentless passing of time), and anticipating the coming boom (of an impending disaster that is somehow sensed without being fully understood) ... well, that came from a deep place. [more]

ON THE TOWN… with Chip Deffaa… (July 2, 2014)

July 2, 2014

The City Center Encores production of Jonathan Larson's tick, tick...BOOM! (directed by Oliver Butler) is the best show I've seen anywhere in a good while. And Lin-Manuel Miranda, in the leading role--as the Jonathan Larson surrogate--was a revelation. [more]

On The Town … With Chip Deffaa … April 4, 2014

April 4, 2014

I sure felt the spirit of the late Jonathan Larson strongly at the Trumbull (Connecticut) High School's production of his musical Rent. This was the school, you may recall, where the principal tried to cancel the students' production of Rent, and the students protested successfully for weeks until they won the right to do the show. Perhaps the fact that they had to fight so hard to do the show gave them an extra investment in it. But they pulled it off well. [more]

Mickey Rooney .. An Appreciation

April 2, 2014

Mickey Rooney was always a treat, whether playing an Average Joe, a gangster, George M. Cohan, or Pinocchio.... I always loved seeing him, on screen or in person. And I liked talking with him. (One conversation we had, late in his life, was a little sad. He noted that for several years he had been MGM's biggest-money maker; in his heyday, his fans had packed movie theaters from coast to coast; no matter what films he was in. But now, his personal appearances tended to draw modest crowds. Where were his fans, he asked aloud, muttering that audiences were fickle. I didn't no how to respond. Audiences weren't necessarily fickle; he'd simply outlived most of his original fans.) [more]

On The Town .. Feb 17, 2014

February 17, 2014

As I write this, I've just gotten back from attending Edith O'Hara's 97th birthday party, and the 13th Street Repertory Theater (50 W. 13th Street, New York City), which she has long run. She is the senior-most theater-owner/producer in New York. She has an idealistic spirit I've long found inspiring. (I first met her years ago, when I wrote something about her and her theater for The New York Post. She was then battling real-estate developers who sought to demolish her theater and put up a high-rise in its place; she wasn't going to about to give up without a fight. All of these years later, she and her theater are still going strong. [more]