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The film of Chip Deffaa's "George M. Cohan Tonight!"--with Jon Peterson reprising his highly acclaimed stage performance--is being released on the day that Cohan always proudly claimed as his birthday--the Fourth of July. "Some folks say that Cohan was actually born on the third of July," acknowledges Deffaa. "But Jon Peterson and I are offering this birthday present for the Father of the Broadway Musical on the day that he chose to celebrate. Happy birthday, George!"

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Jon Peterson as George M Cohan

Chip Deffaa’s “George M. Cohan Tonight!,” starring Jon Peterson–originally produced Off-Broadway in New York at the Irish Repertory Theater–has been filmed at the Irish Repertory Theater  and other sites, and is being released for home viewing now, in celebration of Cohan’s July 4th birthday.  The film can be viewed for free on TubiTV now: Watch George M. Cohan Tonight (2021) – Free Movies | Tubi (      It will be released by Amazon shortly.

The hit Off-Broadway production, which was written and directed by Deffaa, has been adapted for the screen by  actor/director Jon Peterson, for whom Deffaa wrote the original  play.  Peterson–who was honored by the Drama League, presented with a Bistro Award, and nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his characterization on stage–has often said that Cohan is his favorite role.  He shares screenplay credit with Deffaa.

Peterson has performed “George M. Cohan Tonight!” on stage  in countless US cities since its Off-Broadway debut, from New Orleans to Hollywood, as well as in London and Seoul.  And he reprised highlights from the show at the Irish Rep’s Town Hall gala (produced by Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’Reilly) just last month.   The film, directed by Peterson, has been honored at 20 film festivals, before being released this week for home-viewing.

Jon Peterson as George M. Cohan

Deffaa, who’s written and directed five different stage shows about Cohan, says: “I’m thrilled that Jon wanted to do this film.  For my money, there isn’t a greater song-and-dance man active today.  He’s an electric performer.   I first met Jon when he showed up at an open-call audition I was running and gave the strongest audition performance I’ve ever witnessed in my life.  I knew at once I wanted to work with him.    And this film captures the energy of his work on stage.  He’s singing and dancing ‘live’ in this film, he’s not lip-synching to pre-recorded tracks, as is usually  done. Our musicians—all great favorites of ours–include Michael Lavine, Brian Nalepka, Rob Garca, Andy Stein.  And a new  soundtrack album is in the work.  Jon,  I might add, has given a lot of thought over the years as to how to adapt this show cinematographically.  He has a terrific  eye. And I couldn’t be happier. He could direct or adapt any script of mine. It’s always great to work with him.”

 The  cast album of the original Off-Broadway production, as well as other albums that Deffaa has produced featuring Peterson and company performing Cohan songs, such as “The George M. Cohan Revue” and “The George M. Cohan Songbook,” are available from Amazon, Ebay, Apple Music etc. “And we’re working on still another album of Cohan songs—including some never-before-recorded rarities I’ve discovered—now,” Deffaa notes.  “Jon is currently co-starring in ‘Mary Poppins’ in Dallas. But we have more newly discovered Cohan songs for him to record when he gets back to NYC.  He’s the foremost living and interpreter of Cohan’s music.”

Often called “the father of the Broadway musical,” Cohan (1878-1942) rose to the top of his profession as an actor, singer, dancer, playwright, songwriter, director, choreographer, and producer.  “No one in theatrical history ever did so many different things as well as Cohan,” Deffaa notes.  “His statue stands in Times Square; he gazes out at his beloved Broadway.  He lived his whole life inside theaters, and we’re glad this film was shot within theaters–the Irish Rep, the 13th Street Theater, the Argyle, the Triad….. Cohan’s greatest songs, like ‘Give My Regards to Broadway,’ ‘Mary’s a Grand Old Name,’ ‘Over There,’ and ‘You’re  a Grand Old Flag,’ are classic Americana.  But there’s much more to Cohan than those songs that everyone knows…..  The film’s official release date is July 4th, since Cohan so proudly and famously proclaimed he was born on the Fourth of July.  One biographer claims Cohan was actually born on the third.  But Cohan’s been an inspiration for me since I was nine, and July 4thsounds pretty  good to me. We’re happy the film is coming out on the day he claimed as his own. And there’s plenty of fireworks in it.  Happy birthday, George!”

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