Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Song Man, Dance Man -- Seven Angels

Archive Review --

Multi-talented Jon Peterson returns to Seven Angels in Waterbury with a foot-tapping (quite literally), good old-fashioned, entertaining night at the theater with his tribute to some of his favorite Hollywood legends in Song Man, Dance Man.

Peterson, who starred in the Seven Angels’ acclaimed 2007 production of George M. Cohan, returns in a show he conceived, wrote and choreographed. It is co-directed by the theater’s artistic director Semina De Laurents.

Peterson wows with his tapping ability while singing all or part of more than 25 songs made famous by legends George M. Chan, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bobby Darrin and Anthony Newley.

What makes the show really stand out, however, is the terrific writing, which combines the song and dance with tidbits about the careers of the Hollywood stars as well as how they relate to parts of Peterson’s life. Each of the tidbits about the lives of the performers segue naturally into the next song. It’s just the right blend to keep the evening on target without becoming a boring documentary and the two hours slip by. The only weak spot in the show at all, are some Vaudeville-style jokes that, budda bum, bum, fall flat.

The sound by Isaac Mandel is particularly good and we can hear every tap as well as the music played by the fine three-piece band directed by Richard DeRosa.

The Gene Kelly classic “Singin’ in the Rain,” is nicely recreated (sans the rain) and Peterson’s passion translates “What Kind of Fool am I?” into one of the best renditions I’ve seen since Newley.

Song man, Dance Man is one of the don’t-miss shows of the season. It runs through Nov. 29

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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