News Ticker

Jon Peterson

Irving Berlin and Me (And a Brush with Death Along the Way)

April 5, 2022

In the past 20 years, I’ve produced a total of 34 different albums; 16 of them have dealt with Irving Berlin (1888-1989). The newest album in this ongoing Berlin series, "Chip Deffaa’s Irving Berlin: Love Songs and Such"--featuring such gifted artists as Betty Buckley, Karen Mason, Steve Ross, Anita Gillette, Jon Peterson, Natalie Douglas, Jeff Harnar, Sarah Rice, Bobby Belfry, Keith Anderson, Molly Ryan, and Seth Sikes--was the hardest of all the albums to produce. And, for reasons I’ll address in a bit, it took by far the longest time to produce; life is not always easy. But for me, this is the most satisfying album of the bunch. (And as I type these words, I’m happy to note it’s just been nominated for a MAC Award, which is extra gratifying!) I know I’ve made a worthwhile contribution to Berlin’s recorded legacy. [more]

George M. Cohan Tonight!

August 17, 2021

It is definitely worth a gander for both its subject matter and its performer, the disarming and immensely talented Jon Peterson who also adapted the one-man play from Chip Deffaa’s original stage production which Deffaa previously staged.  Peterson directed this filmed adaptation and choreographed the scintillating tap routines matched with joyous precision to Cohan’s repertoire of gung-ho Americana.  (Think “Over There,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “Forty-five Minutes from Broadway.”)  The choreographic high point was Peterson’s hip-swinging dance to “The Hinkey Dee.” [more]

Remembering Don Schaffer

August 5, 2021

Don long worked as a publicist for one singer he greatly admired; when age and ill health prevented her from working much anymore and her finances grew precarious, she told him she could no longer afford a publicist and would have to let him go. He continued to do what he could for her, gratis, and when she died he handled the public relations, to ensure she got the sort of send-off she deserved, even though there was no one to pay him for his services; he felt it was his responsibility as her long-time publicist. [more]

On the Town with Chip Deffaa: As Nightclubs Begin Coming Back

July 20, 2021

Gianni Valenti, who runs one of the city’s best-known and most important nightspots, Birdland Jazz Club on 44th Street, deserves a lot of credit for leading the way.  He was one of the first club owners to announce plans to reopen.  He’s reopened strong, booking lots of respected artists, like Delfeayo Marsalis, Allan Harris, Ken Peplowski, etc. (For Birdland's full schedule, go to www.birdlandjazz.com.)  And he’s keeping prices as low as possible to make sure the place is packed.   For many shows at Birdland this summer, you can buy tickets online and pay only a nominal cover charge—some nights just 99 cents (plus a service charge).  That’s the same cover charge the club had when it first opened way back in 1949. [more]

ON THE TOWN… with Chip Deffaa …. October 28nd, 2018

October 28, 2018

The generous spirit of Jonathan Larson (1960-1996) certainly was felt in New York's great supper club, Feinstein's/54 Below, the night I went to see The Jonathan Larson Project (which filled the club for a dozen performances in six nights, with different guest-stars each night). It did my soul good to be there. [more]

Irving Berlin: In Person

December 20, 2017

Deffaa’s great achievement is joining the narrative portions with just the right song.  An anecdote about encountering Florenz Ziegfeld having an office dalliance with a chorus girl is followed by “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody.” “I Love a Piano” is preceded by Berlin’s extolling of his beloved piano nicknamed “Buick. ” [more]

A 2017 10 Best List

December 20, 2017

Darryl Reilly, Critic Looking back at the 128 performance reviews I wrote for Theaterscene.net in [more]

On The Town…With Chip Deffaa…Sept 9, 2017

September 9, 2017

In the first half of her career, Barbara Cook was a top leading lady in musical theater, famously originating roles in such Broadway shows as “The Music Man” and “She Loves Me.” (Decades later, she could still sing for me at her home lines of “My White Knight” that had been cut from the score of “The Music Man” before it opened on Broadway in 1957.) [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]

He Wrote Good Songs: A Life of Anthony Newley

October 29, 2014

Jon Peterson's dazzling performance in "He Wrote The Good Songs" will enthrall admirers of Anthony Newley and joyously enlighten those interested in show business that are unfamiliar with him. These are all interspersed with very well chosen and delivered biographical reminiscences that are addressed to the audience. Included is a hilarious recounting of the nine-month film shoot of Dr. Doolittle, and unpleasant co-star Rex Harrison "who was bitten by every animal" and nicknamed "Tyrannosaurs Rex" by the crew. Through expert mimicry Peterson also portrays various figures from Newley's life such as his parents, a stuffy teacher, and producer David Merrick. [more]