If you would like to have one of our shows in your community, you can license a script and prepare a production of your own. Or you could have us do a production. We have a core group of terrific performers (with Broadway, film, and TV credits) who have workshopped and performed these shows in New York.
Jon Peterson (standing) with music director Richard Danley at the piano
Michael T. Wright, Catherine Remmert, Jon Peterson, Joan Jaffe
Our collective personnel includes such fine performers as Jon Peterson, Hal Blankenship, Joan Jaffe, Michael Townsend Wright, Dawne Swearingen, Catherine Remmert, Seth Sikes, Dave Warren, Lynelle Johnson Lena Gilbert, Robert Micheli, Ryan Swearingen, Suzanne Dressler, Jackie Comisar, Daniel Sullivan, and Jennie Cohan Ross (who happens to be George M.'s great-granddaughter!).
We have some performers who have been in the business for decades--like Michael Townsend Wright--who learned from veterans in their youth, and are now passing on their knowledge to the youngest cast-members of our shows. The derby Wright is wearing in the photo below, incidentally, was given to him by the late comic Joey Faye; Wright was Faye's last burlesque sketch partner. And some of Wright's impeccable comic timing, we trust, is rubbing off on kids who've worked with him in "The Seven Little Foys."
Chris Campochiaro and Peter Charney with recording engineer Jason Steffan, working on demo recordings for "The Seven Little Foys"
Gathering for a "Seven Little Foys" demo-recording session: Chris Campochiaro, Alyssa Campochiaro, Peter Charney, Dea Julien, Michael T. Wright
Dea Julien, Michael Townsend Wright, and company in a scene from "The Seven Little Foys"
Many of our performers wear more than one hat. For example, Kirby Ward (who played Eddie Foy in our Connecticut production of "The Seven Little Foys") is not just a respected song-and-dance man, with Broadway, Hollywood, and West End credits, he also directs and choreographs shows, in the US and abroad.
We've worked with some of the best musical directors around, including Brett Kristofferson (seen in the photo above, rehearsing with John Kultgen, Matt Weaver, and Eric Stevens), Richard Danley (in the photos at right, working with Tyler Watkins and Danny Kingston), Broc Hempel (in the photo below, with Beth Bartley), Richard DeRosa, Sterling Price-McKinney, D. Jay Bradley, Matt Gallagher, Ross Patterson, Gary Mattison, Michael Lavine. Vince Giordano, our bassist in George M. Cohan Tonight!, is well-known in jazz circles as leader of the Nighthawks Orchestra; our drummer, Rob Garcia, works regularly with Woody Allen.
We're always happy when Annie LeBaux (pictured at right), a respected composer in her own right, is able to pitch in as a rehearsal pianist for us. She's also served as a rehearsal pianist for the late Jonathan Larson, composer of "Rent," among others.
* * *
Regional theaters often like to use the artists who've worked with us in New York. For example, when the Stoneham, Massachusetts, Theatre (pictured below), presented "George M. Cohan Tonight!," Sterling Price-McKinney (below, right) served as music director, just as he had in our original Off-Broadway production.
Annie LeBeaux (at piano) with Tyler Watkins and Tyler Etheridge
The marquee of the Stoneham Theater. "George M. Cohan Tonight!" played at this former vaudeville house, just outside of Boston, in June 2007.
Drummer Mick Lewander, bassist Mike Leggio, music director/pianist Sterling Price-McKinney at the stage door of the Stoneham Theatre
Michael Townsend Wright and Company in "The Seven Little Foys"
Justin Boccitto rehearses kids for "The Seven Little Foys."
Justin Boccitto, Dawne Swearingen, Cristina Marie, and Jon Peterson have choreographed our shows. Maryann Lopinto has often served as our stage manager (and resident photographer).
Jon Peterson as George M. Cohan
Catherine Remmert, Jon Peterson
Many of our actors continue working with us on projects year after year. Jon Peterson and Cathy Remmert, for example, have been stalwarts since 2002.
Most actors are chosen for our projects through auditions, usually held at Ripley-Grier Studios (or similar facilities) in New York City. Actors may be asked to sing, and dance, and read scenes with playwright/director Chip Deffaa and others--often trying different scenes, as different characters. Actors selected for one show frequenty wind up, over time, doing other shows as part of an informal repertory company of talented players. Suzanne Dressler, for example, was first cast to appear in "George M. Cohan: In His Own Words," but since then has contributed to assorted shows, readings, and demo recordings with Deffaa.
Suzanne Dressler, Chip Deffaa
Our music copyists have included Donald Brown, Richard Danley, Broc Hempel, D. Jay Bradley, Chase Baird, Peter McMurray, Shawn Stanley, and Seth Sikes (pictured at left).
Our gratitude to production associates C. Brock, J. Peterson, J. Eisbrenner. The Cohan Project has been made possible with support from Chashama (Anita Durst, director); they're good people at Chashama, check 'em out some time. Artist-on-call: Kale Teter. (We found him before he became famous, and suggest you do likewise.)
Michael T. Wright, Cathy Remmert, Jon Peterson
Brandon Tyler Reid
While most of the dedicated actors who've worked in our productions are based in the New Yok area, some travel considerable distances to work with us. For example, talented young Brandon Tyler Reid, who's performed in the national tour of "Peter Pan" and has gotten good notices for his work in our "Seven Little Foys," hails from Florida. Eric Stevens, who's impressed mightily in both our "Theater Boys" and "Seven Little Foys," is based in Boston; he's appeared in shows at North Shore Music Theatre, Massachusetts' most prominent regional theater. And gifted Rayna Hirt, of "The Seven Little Foys," has won competitions as the outstanding dancer in her age group, in her native Florida.
Rayna Hirt, Dea Julien (standing), with Alex Craven and Brandon Reid (seated) in a scene from "The Seven Little Foys" at the Fringe Festival
While most of our actors are found through auditions, we've had luck finding some excellent actors outside of the regular audition process, as well. For example, we first saw Alexander Craven--who wound up playing young Irving Foy in "The Seven Little Foys"--when we went to check out a production of "Yankee Doodle Boy" being done at a school, and he was a standout.
Ryan Foy (standing in front) rehearses for "The Seven Little Foys." (In the back row, from left to right: Beth Bartley, Dea Julien, Eddy Francisco)
Eddy Francisco, Ryan Foy
The terrific Ryan Foy--who happens to be the real-life grandson of the late Irving Foy--was recommended to us, and he turned out to be a wonderful addition ("truly magical," as the Village Voice put it) to the cast of the New York production of "The Seven Little Foys." (For more on that production, go to the page on this website that's titled "Foys at the Fringe.")
Our thanks to Marq Stankowski, Danny Walker, Dave Collins, Philip Chevron, Don Schaffer, and Big Head Productions for help in providing music, memorabilia, and other items we've needed for productions.
Jon Peterson, Joan Jaffe
You can sometimes catch our performers in appearances of their own around town. For example, Beth Bartley, from our "Seven Little Foys" and "The Johnny Mercer Jamboree," often appears in downtown NYC clubs with her band, "Ulrafine." And the photo at left catches Eric Stevens from "The Seven Little Foys" singing at the noted jazz supper club Birdland.
Rehearsing the musical number "Struttin,'" for "The Seven Little Foys"
A note on our photographer.... The multi-talented Maryann Lopinto, who took most of the production photos and rehearsal photos on this website, has been involved as a stage manager, photographer, and general assistant with many of Chip Deffaa’s shows from the first tryouts of "George M. Cohan Tonight!" to the latest production of "The Seven Little Foys." She has also created, produced and directed a dozen all-star “Cabaret on the Record” benefit concerts for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, featuring performances by more than 90 Broadway and cabaret artists. She is the photographer for shows at Town Hall; in addition, her photos will be included in a biography of composer Stephen Schwartz, which is due out in December. There 's no one quite like Maryann Lopinto, and we're grateful to have her help on our various productions.
Chip Deffaa, Okey Chenoweth
Actor/writer/director Okey Chenoweth (at left with Chip Deffaa) has long been a good mentor. And our thanks to Tommy Tune and Carol Channing for their unique contributions of stardust and inspiration. As Miss Channing advised Chip Deffaa before this project got rolling: "Be careful what you set your heart upon, for you shall surely get it." Wise, wise woman.
We've been blessed to have some wonderfully talented and enthusiastic people work with us on our various projects. David Cronin (at left) was a standout, singing and dancing in various Tada Theatre Company productions. We've enjoyed Jamie LaVerdiere (with music director Sterling Price-McKinney, below) in shows ranging from Theatreworks' "Young Thomas Edison" to Mel Brooks' "The Producers."
Sterling Price-McKinney, Jamie LaVerdiere
Sophie Howes, David Cronin, Michael Townsend Wright, Paul Iacono
Paul Iacono (making a demo recording for us in the photo at left) may be seen playing "Neil" in the new motion picture, "Fame." Paul's added life to our demo's for both "The Seven Little Foys" and "The Johnny Mercer Jamboree."
Chip Deffaa spotted Kimberly Faye Greenberg in the Off-Broadway hit "Danny & Sylvia," and had a hunch she might make a good "Fanny Brice." He invited her to read through the script he was writing, and wound up casting her in the first production of the show. She's currently starring in the show Off-Broadway, at St. Luke's Theater, 308 W. 46th Street, NYC.
Chip Deffaa, directing Kimberly Faye Greenberg in "One Night with Fanny Brice"
Kimberly Faye Greenberg as Fanny Brice
Kimberly Faye Greenberg "sings beautifully," says The New York Times.
You can see her starring in Chip Deffaa's "One Night With Fanny Brice" at St. Luke's Theater, 308 W. 46th Street (west of Eighth Avenue), New York City. For info and tix, please visit:
Pianist Mark Goodman (pictured above with writer/director Chip Deffaa and actress Kimberly Faye Greenberg) has worked as a music director for our "One Night with Fanny Brice"--both in its first production, in New Jersey, and on the premiere recording. He's also served as conductor and assistant conductor for various Broadway, national-tour, and regional productions, working with such stars as Bebe Neuwirth and Lauren Bacall.
Violinist Jonathan Russell (shown at left during a recording session for our "One Night with Fanny Brice" cast album) has played with many noted artists, ranging from jazz greats like Wynton Marsalis and Dick Hyman to youthful rock stars Nat and Alex Wolff (of "Naked Brothers Band" renown). We're delighted to have him in the company of our Off-Broadway production.
Amy Stiller, at the first reading for "Fanny Brice & Co."
We're very happy that Amy Stiller has helped in the development of "Fanny Brice & Co." Amy--like her parents, Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara, and her brother, Ben Stiller--has a natural flair for comedy. She also has a rare gift for creating multiple characterizations. It was her prowess in portraying diverse characters in a one-woman show she wrote, some years back, that first caught Chip Deffaa's attention.
At right: two of the best teenaged actors we've worked with: Jack Saleeby and Emily Bordonaro. They're a joy to work with, too; they get our highest recommendation.
A veteran of assorted Broadway and Off-Broadway shows (including "Grease," "Nine," "Saturday Night Fever," "The Look of Love," and "The Marvelous Wonderettes"), Farah Alvin may be heard on Chip Deffaa's CD, "The Johnny Mercer Jamboree," swinging zestfully through "The G.I. Jive" and more. Most recently, she's helped workshop Deffaa's "One Night with Fanny Brice."
Costume designer Renee Purdy (at right) has worked on several of Chip Deffaa's shows, contributing costumes to the world premiere production of "The Seven Little Foys" in Connecticut, "George M. Cohan Tonight!" on the road, and "One Night with Fanny Brice," Off-Broadway in New York.
Chip Deffaa, Renee Purdy
The sweetness, strength, and sensitivity that Jillian Wipfler brings to a performance--whether on stage or on a recording--shines through beautifully in this photo, taken at Be-Sharp Studios during the recording of the "Seven Little Foys" cast album.
It's been an honor to work on projects with Jillian, dating back to 2007. Our original "Mary Foy" of "The Seven Little Foys" is a delight to work with. She's done many shows, from "Ragtime" to "Les Miz." Most recently she starred as "Beauty" in a production of "Beauty and the Beast" at the Taft School.
Versatile song-and-dance man Kirby Ward (at right) has envlivened shows on Broadway, won an Olivier Award in England, directed in Korea... and starred in Chip Deffaa's "Seven Little Foys" in Connecticut.
We'd be happy to work again with any and all of the good people on this page.
Nine-year-old Alex Dreier--who was on Broadway in "Billy Elliott"--appeared in our presentation of "The Seven Little Foys" at the York Theater in NYC, in the summer of 2012. This photo shows him singing a number from "The Seven Little Foys" at Jim Caruso's "Cast Party," at the jazz club Birdland, in New York City. The audience at the club (which included nine-time Tony Award-winner Tommy Tune) loved him!
Michael Townsend Wright, Theron Johnson, Mary Cantoni Johnson, Emily Bordonaro, Bob Diamond, Chip Deffaa, Ben Orlando, Ray Yucis, Alexandrea Tocco, Hannah Bellows, at a reading of "The Fanny Brice Story"
Santino Fontana, who's made demo recordings for us, has won the Clarence Derwent Award for his work in the recent Broadway revival of "The Importance of Being Ernest," and the Drama Desk Award ("Best Featured Actor in a Play") for his work in the Broadway revival of "Brighton Beach Memoirs."
Bailey Cummings (pictured at right with playwright/director Chip Deffaa) impressed Deffaa with his performances in various plays in Connecticut; he's worked with Deffaa on the Seven Little Foys album and on the show Irving Berlin's America.
Bailey Cummings, Chip Deffaa
Ricky Schroeder, currently in the Off-Broadway hit "Naked Boys Singing," will be featured on the forthcoming "Theater Boys" CD.
Zac Ballard, who played the youngest Foy child in our presentation of "The Seven Little Foys" at the York Theater, is currently featured in the Broadway musical "A Christmas Story."
Brett Kristofferson, Eric Stevens, David Cronin
Seth Sikes, Jon Peterson
"Whatever you do, kid, serve it up with a little dressing."
--George M. Cohan, to Spencer Tracy
Seth Sikes, Jon Peterson
"Life will hand you just a few laughs.
A little dialogue, then somebody sings....
Life's just a great big musical show."
--George M. Cohan (lines from an unfinished musical he was working on at the time of his death)
"And so he snuck off, all alone by himself, and nobody didn't see him no more."
--a line from Peck's Bad Boy (which gave Cohan his first great success starring in a show, at the age of 13).
Need more info? Contact Chip Deffaa Productions, 50 Quartz Lane, Paterson, NJ 07501-3345; telephone: (973) 684-3340; Email: OriginalCast1@aol.com.
We'd love to hear from you!
Chip Deffaa, Ellery Bakaitis, Jon Peterson
Jon Peterson in "George M. Cohan Tonight!"
(Graphic design of the above image: Peter Sellers Jr.)