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Song Man Dance Man Performance March 6-10, 2013


Award-winning actor, singer and dancer Jon Peterson created and stars in a joyous tribute to seven extraordinary Hollywood icons: George M. Cohan, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bobby Darin and Anthony Newley. Peterson sings and dances his way through 25 memorable moments made famous by these legends of the silver screen. He will perform five shows from March 6 – 10th at the Key Largo Cultural Center. See FKLCC.org or Nola at 305-395-0760 or email  Nolaa@keysbank.com  for more information.

Excerpts from Reviews:

Peterson is a phenomenon. He devours the stage. He vamps, slithers and burns energy like a comet plummeting to earth.” The Detroit News

“Imagine the energy required to put on a show comprising songs and dances by George M. Cohan, Fred Astaire, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gene Kelly, Anthony Newley and Donald O’Connor…. Jon Peterson opened just such a show …..His energy never flagged during this 100-minute tour de force. … Peterson loves this stuff and projected that love urgently. That charged his electric presence, which commanded the room Sunday.” – Third Coast Digest

Trailer  -  http://vimeo.com/32126216

YouTube -   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1SjBCui_JU

Complete copies of reviws

Review from milwalkee  journal sentinel

Early in Sunday night's opening performance of "Song Man Dance Man," Jon Peterson's one-man homage to seven entertainment legends, Milwaukee Rep/ertory Theater Artistic Director Mark Clements brought up the house lights, took the stage and called a timeout. While an unfazed Peterson had soldiered on after his mike died, Clements wanted Peterson's story to be heard by as many people as possible, and he was willing to risk a five-minute break to ensure that it was.Good move - one that doubles Clements' initial decision to give voice to this show by bringing it to the Stackner Cabaret as a worthy addition to the Rep's season. Surrounded by fading stills and tattered posters in a shabby dressing room from a bygone era (scenic design by Courtney O'Neill), Peterson begins by telling us that song-and-dance men are extinct. Ably accompanied by Jack Forbes Wilson on piano, Peterson then spends two energetic hours repeatedly proving himself wrong, as he sings and dances through 24 numbers featuring George M. Cohan, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Anthony Newley. That's a mouthful, but despite a few forced segues and a bucket of deliberately corny jokes, Peterson gets the job done.

It helps that despite light accessorizing - including a boater for Cohan, top hat and tails for Astaire, and a houndstooth blazer for Davis - Peterson doesn't try to embody each individual man, opting instead to collectively represent all of them through his own lithe frame. He tells a coherent story, using thumbnail biographical sketches and well-chosen anecdotes to trace the rise and fall of vaudeville, Hollywood musicals and the nightclub. More impressive still is the dramatic arc Peterson creates from material that might easily have passed muster as a variety show. Early numbers showcase Peterson's athleticism and grace as a dancer, beginning with furiously tapped Cohan and culminating with insouciant kicks at imaginary puddles in a memorable, umbrella-twirling rendition of Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain." But the melancholy undertone to "Rain" also proves to be a pivot point in the show, and as Peterson turns more of his attention to troubadours like Darin and Newley, the mood gradually begins to darken. The result is an emotionally charged second half, in which Peterson delivers a lights-out "Mack the Knife," a sympathetic portrait of Davis ("I Gotta Be Me"), and introspective selections from Cohan and Newley that confront the remorseless advance of time - and underscore how important it is that we dance while we still can.

 Peterson is a phenomenon. He devours the stage. He vamps, slithers and burns energy like a comet plummeting to earth.” – The Detroit News

Review from Third Coast Digest

Jon Peterson is THE Song Man Dance Man

Jon Peterson, with pianist Jack Forbes Wilson. Milwaukee Rep photo by Michael Brosilow.

Imagine the energy required to put on a show comprising songs and dances by George M. Cohan, Fred Astaire, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gene Kelly, Anthony Newley and Donald O’Connor. Sunday night, Jon Peterson opened just such a show, his own Song Man Dance Man, at the Milwaukee Rep’s Stackner Cabaret. Aside from a few props and the indispensable Jack Forbes Wilson at the piano, Peterson was on his own.

His energy never flagged during this 100-minute tour de force. He didn’t hide his effort, which was palpable, but he never tried too hard, pleaded for audience approval, or showed desperation. Peterson loves this stuff and projected that love urgently. That charged his electric presence, which commanded the room Sunday.

Peterson is a small, wiry guy with a driving tap style and low center of gravity, worlds apart from Astaire but pretty close to Gene Kelly. He’s a very skilled hoofer and a smart, powerful singer, but still: How could he or anyone out-Astaire Astaire or one-up Gene Kelly? Peterson put a gloss of imitation on most of the numbers, but essentially (and wisely) chose to remain more or less himself throughout. Thus Song Man Dance Man becomes a heartfelt homage rather than a string of pale imitations.

Jon Peterson dons clown make-up for the last two numbers of "Song Man Dance Man." Milwaukee Rep photo by Michael Brosilow.

As a singer, he was very much his own man. He added a hint of Anthony Newley mannerism to Newley’s tunes, but gave no such nod to Bobby Darin in Splish Splash and Mack the Knife. Peterson’s Mack was among the fiercest and most furious I’ve ever heard.

His phrasing and articulation gave special force to the meanings of all the songs. He and Wilson built some of the more operatic tunes — Send in the Clowns, Once in a Lifetime, I Gotta Be Me — to convincing heroic climaxes. Peterson also nailed the easy, loping charm of It’s a Lovely Day Today (associated with Donald O’Connor) and Singin’ in the Rain. He showed more good judgment by making his own rain dance rather than reproducing Kelly’s as best he could on a dry stage.

A forgotten song, Cohan’s Life’s a Funny Proposition After All, was my favorite of the evening. You’d think it would be a vintage comedy tune, but no. Cohan here considers the meaning of life and wonders at the miracle of the way things are, in simple language that touches the profound. Peterson’s exactly right parlando approach to it held us all spellbound.

Peterson’s script ingeniously weaves anecdotes, historical notes and hoary jokes into a narrative that ties all seven legends into a tradition. Jon Peterson is a worthy addition to the lineage he has chronicled so vividly.