THE STORY OF “THE SEVEN LITTLE FOYS”
Eddie Foy–reviewers declared in his heyday–was the funniest, gentlest, and most endearing comedian in America; they called him “Broadway’s pet.” In the early 20th century, he starred in musical comedies and revues, and toured extensively in vaudeville.
In his late 50's, after a lifetime spent as a single entertainer, Foy embarked on a whole new career, as leader of what became the most popular family act of the era: “Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys.” Touring in vaudeville with his seven rambunctious children, after his wife died, posed formidable challenges. But it was out on the road that the Foys learned the real meaning of family.
Eddie Foy’s heart-warming story inspired a hit motion picture, "The Seven Little Foys," starring Bob Hope and James Cagney, as well as a TV special of the same name starring Eddie Foy Jr. and the Osmonds. ASCAP-award-winning writer Chip Deffaa (author/director of such Off-Broadway successes as "George M. Cohan Tonight!" and "One Night with Fanny Brice") has created the first stage version of the Foys’ story. Deffaa’s show is the only hit family musical to have emerged from the New York International Fringe Festival in recent years. Heading the cast are Michael Townsend Wright and Beth Bartley (for whom Deffaa wrote the show) as Mr. And Mrs. Foy, joined by some of the most talented younger actors to be found. The musical–a valentine to a wonderful era of show business–mixes spirited new original songs by Deffaa, such as “Struttin’” “One More Christmas,” and “Someday,” with vintage favorites introduced or popularized by the Foys, such as “Row Row Row,” “Chinatown My Chinatown,” and “Moonlight Bay.”
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Michael Townsend Wright, who plays Eddie Foy, developed his acclaimed comic timing doing “live” burlesque sketches with the late Joey Faye, and as a regular on television's vaudeville-flavored "Uncle Floyd Show" (starring Floyd Vivino). He has guested on TV shows ranging from "The Naked Brothers Band"(starring Nat and Alex Wolff) to "Rescue Me." He's performed in such films as "Lansky" and "The Rat Pack." Wright was featured in the original casts of such plays of Deffaa's as "George M. Cohan: In His Own Words" (published by Samuel French Inc.), "Yankee Doodle Boy" (Drama Source), "Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge Plays), and "The George M. Cohan Revue" (Bakers Plays). He may be heard on the premiere recording of Deffaa's "Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge). Rob Lester noted, in a review of The Seven Little Foys (EdgeBoston.com): "Michael Townsend Wright plays the roguish father Foy with authentic showbiz charm." Reviewer David G. Meyers (WGBB-AM) hailed Wright as “very powerful, talented, and most unassuming.” Deffaa wrote such songs as “Struttin,’” “Someday,” and “An Eddie Foy Soft Shoe” with Wright in mind.
Beth Bartley, who plays Mrs. Foy, performed on Broadway with the late, great Sir Alan Bates in the Tony-nominated "Fortune's Fool." Other credits include the films "Kinsey" and "The Daymakers"; the TV series "Mercy"; a national tour with the Acting Company in "Comedy of Errors." She has contributed to the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival for several years, most recently touring with their production of Williams’ "Orpheus Descending. " A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Juilliard School, Bartley has also helped Deffaa workshop and develop his "Johnny Mercer Jamboree" (and may be heard on the cast album, available from CDBaby). Deffaa wrote the role of Mrs. Foy with Bartley in mind. She’s featured on “Moonlight Bay” and “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland.” Reviewer David Fuller noted, on NYTheatre.com: "Beth Bartley sings beautifully as Mrs. Foy. Her voice is reminiscent of the young Judy Garland." David G. Meyers declared on WGBB-AM: "Beth Bartley is wonderful as Mrs. Foy. I am only sorry that her character passed away in the middle of the play; I wanted to see and hear more of her."
Devon Eddy (“Bryan Foy”)--whom Chip Deffaa has enjoyed on stage in productions of such shows as "Once Upon a Mattress" and "42nd Street"-- has been a part of the "Seven Little Foys" project since the very beginning. He was in the world-premiere production and on the early demo recordings. He has studied for years with Broadway pro Scott Wise. He plays the oldest Foy son, and sings such songs on this album as “If I Was a Millionaire” and “Goodbye My Bluebell.”
Emily Bordonaro (“Madeline Foy”) has worked on assorted projects of Deffaa’s, since first doing a reading of "The Seven Little Foys.."(She’s showcased on such numbers as “Some of These Days” and “Second-Hand Rose.”) She’s also featured on the premiere recording of Deffaa’s "Presenting Fanny Brice"(Eldridge). Her many other credits include the national tour of "Whistle Down the Wind"; starring in "The Gargoyle Garden" at the New York International Fringe Festival; "Les Miserables" (directed by Rick Doyle) at the Thomaston Opera House; "Little Women" (directed by Ryan Ratelle) at Hartford Children’s Theater; appearances on TV in "Celebrity Ghost Stories 2" and "Celebrity Nightmares Decoded" (Biography Channel); appearances in such films as "Disconnect" and "Brilliant Mistakes."
Jillian Wipfler–playing the older daughter, "Mary Foy,” who narrates the show--has been part of the "Seven Little Foys" project since the first readings of the script, and the first production. Hers is the very first voice heard on the album; she starts off the song “Smiles,” and she’s also featured on “Shine On Harvest Moon.” In addition to her work with Deffaa, she’s graced productions of such musicals as "Ragtime" and "Les Miserables"
(at the Thomaston Opera House), and "Beauty and the Beast" (Taft).
Peter Charney (“Eddie Foy Jr.”) has not only been part of the “Foys” project from the beginning--seen in the world-premiere production and heard on the early demo’s-- he actually contributed a couple of the lines! (Words he ad-libbed in performance have become a permanent part of the show.) He is featured on the song “Everybody Works But Father.” He’s also been part of the development process for Deffaa’s musical "Song-and-Dance Kids." He's appeared in productions of such musicals as "Whistle Down the Wind," "Legally Blonde,"and "Oliver." He juggles and does magic, too.
Alex Craven (“Irving Foy”) was just nine years old when he portrayed George M. Cohan in a production of Deffaa’s "Yankee Doodle Boy" produced by Marci Schein and Mike Ficcocelli’s Little Fig Stage Company, in Katonah, New York. Deffaa saw him in that production and knew at once he’d be a perfect “Foy kid.” When he played Irving Foy in "The Seven Little Foys" in the New York International Fringe Festival, a year later–cheerfully “Singin’ the Blues”-- reviewer David Fuller of NYTheatre.com wrote succinctly: “Alex Craven deserves extra mention as the youngest member of the cast, the youngest Foy--and just so darned cute.”
Maxwell Beer (“Charlie Foy”) most recently played the title role in the feature film "Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life" (written/directed by Tamar Halpern, and also starring Mira Sorvino, Joe Pantoliano, and Michael Urie). His previous film appearances include "The Skeptic," starring Tim Daley, Tom Arnold, and Ed Herrman, and "The Lunchroom." When he appeared in Neil Simon’s "Lost in Yonkers" at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse (after previously doing the play in Florida and Ohio), one reviewer wrote that Max Beer “gives as fresh, natural, and appealing a performance as I've seen any juvenile actor offer in years. It's a remarkable performance--buoyant, spirit-lifting, and wholly unaffected.” (Chip Deffaa wholeheartedly agrees with that assessment.) He’s featured on the songs “I Want to be a Popular Millionaire” and “Please Wait for Me.” He attends the French Woods Festival of Performing Arts, where he has done such shows as "Oklahoma," "Mack & Mabel," and "Parade."
Tyler DuBoys (“Richard Foy”)–who’s heard not just speaking and singing on this CD (on numbers like “Shine On Harvest Moon” and “One More Christmas–First Reprise”), but also tapping a bit (on “Row Row Row”)--has aided in the development of several of
Deffaa’s shows. He’s participated in readings of "The Seven Little Foys" and "Song-and-Dance Kids," and was featured on the premiere recording of
"Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge).He’s performed in many touring musicals, such as "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat," "Anne of Green Gables," and "The Radio City Christmas Spectacular." Since 2007, he has been a member of the Connecticut-based dance company In Motion, where he is also a frequent guest choreographer. In addition, he’s an aerialist, and a certified instructor in AntiGravity Yoga®--a hybrid technique that combines high-flying aerial acrobatics with restorative yoga.
Zachary Riopelle, who’s featured on the songs “Daddy, You’ve Been a Mother to Me” and “You Remind Me of My Mother,” currently attends New York’s LaGuardia High School, where he studies drama. For four years he has attended the French Woods Festival of Performing Arts, where he has gotten to perform in such shows as "Singin’ in the Rain," "Little Me," and "13." (He would like to thank his parents for being so supportive, and give a special thanks to his sister Lily, adding that she is the light of his life and his inspiration to be his best every day.)
Bailey Cummings, who leads off on the song “Sometimes I Miss New Rochelle,” was most recently featured–playing two memorable roles with grace and flair--in the farce "Writer’s Cramp" by Larry Glaister, directed by Ed Bassett Jr. at Connecticut’s Phoenix Stage. He’s performed in many productions in Connecticut, including "West Side Story" (directed by Rick Doyle) at the Thomaston Opera House, "Hairspray" (Foster Evans Reese) at the Warner Theater, and "Theory of Relativity" (Bruce Post) at WAMS. He has been working with Deffaa on the development of a new musical, "Irving Berlin's America."
Jon Peterson, who plays Eddie Foy’s great friend, George M. Cohan (singing “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “When You Come Back”), has a long association with the role of Cohan. Chip Deffaa wrote the Off-Broadway musical " George M. Cohan Tonight!" for Peterson, and Peterson has scored successes playing that show not just in New York, but in many other cities as well, racking up rave reviews. Peterson won the Bistro Award from Back Stage for his dynamic portrayal of Cohan. He was also honored by the Drama League and nominated for a Drama Desk Award, and then won the Connecticut Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding Musical Performance for his work in "George M. Cohan Tonight! " Peterson has enlivened many musical comedies in his native London, including "42nd Street," A Chorus Line," "The sound of Music," and "Cats." He starred as the emcee in Sam Mendes' and Rob Marhsall’s acclaimed production of "Cabaret"--two years in the U.S. national tour, before covering the role on Broadway. He may be heard on the CD’s
"Skiddoo" and "The Johnny Mercer Jamboree"--as well as, of course, on the "George M. Cohan Tonight!" cast album.
Our thanks to the following ensemble singers for contributing their good voices and good vibes to the project: Emmaleigh Pepe-Winshell, who is--like cast-mates Emily Bordonaro and Casie Pepe-Winshell--one of Eric Larivee’s music-theater students at the highly respected Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts–and who’s enhanced regional productions of shows ranging from "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown" to "Urinetown"; ; Emma Czaplinski, who’s provided invaluable assistance in the development of Deffaa’s "The Fanny Brice Story," who’s shined in a recent production of "The Sound of Music," and who came down from Massachusetts to record with us in New York City.
Our thanks, too, for cameo appearances by: Casie Pepe-Winshell, winner of a National Youth Theatre Award for her work in "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown" at Hartford Children’s Theatre; and Richie Arthur--who took time off from his busy schedule with his own ebullient rock band, to drop by the studio one afternoon, and add a little bit of his stardust to the proceedings; that fellow has charisma! Catch a touring appearance by him with the band Kincking Daisies.
Richard Danley (Music Director). A well-respected, New York-based accompanist, conductor, and arranger, Danley is Chip Deffaa’s first choice among music directors. He has worked with Deffaa on many projects, including recording sessions, readings, and full productions, such as “George M. Cohan Tonight!” (most recently in New Orleans) and “The Seven Little Foys” (at the New York International Fringe Festival). He played on the premiere recording of Deffaa’s show “Presenting Fanny Brice.” He has served as musical director/arranger for Peter Duchin's Broadway revues, music director for cabarets in New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles. He was a featured pianist with "Broadway and Barbershop" at Carnegie Hall. Other credits include: arranger/conductor for Broadway-style revues in NYC, Montreal, Switzerland, and Texas. He has conducted industrials in South Carolina and Hawaii, and has appeared on daytime dramas in television. Training: B.S., David Lipscomb University. Member: AFTRA, AF of M.
Two-tiime Grammy-winner Andy Stein, whose violin graces a dozen tracks on this album, has worked with many of the greatest artists in the fields of jazz, classical, pop, and rock, including Wynton Marsalis, Itzhak Perlman, Tony Bennett, Paul McCartney, Placido Domingo, Bob Dylan, Charlie Daniels, Aerosmith, Barbara Cook, Audra McDonald, B. B. King, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Phil Woods, Paquito D'Rivera, Marilyn Horne. He is heard regularly on public radio's "A Prairie Home Companion" and on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." Chip Deffaa notes: "There's no living violinist I enjoy more than Andy Stein. I've been a tremendous admirer of his, going back to the days when he was a founding member of the rock 'n' roll band Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen, and when he released his first rollicking jazz album as a leader, 'Going Places.' I've loved hearing him 'live' many times with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks.”
Chip Deffaa (playwright/songwriter/director) is the author of six published plays and eight published books. "George M. Cohan Tonight!, "
which Deffaa wrote and directed Off-Broadway at the Irish Repertory Theatre, was hailed by The New York Times as "brash, cocky, and endlessly euphoric" It has since been performed everywhere from the United Kingdom to Korea. "One Night with Fanny Brice," which Deffaa wrote and directed Off-Broadway at St. Luke's Theater, was praised by The New York Times for delving "deeper into Brice's story" than Funny Girl ever did. The Associated Press acclaimed it as a "charming, fast-paced" musical. Deffaa’s books include "Swing Legacy," "Voices of the Jazz Age," " In the Mainstream, "Traditionalists and Revivalists in Jazz," "Jazz Veterans," "F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Princeton Years" (ed.), "Blue Rhythms," and (with David Cassidy) "C'Mon Get Happy." For 18 years, Deffaa wrote for The New York Post, writing news, feature stories, and reviews dealing with jazz, cabaret, and theater. He was also a longtime writer for Entertainment Weekly magazine. Deffaa has won an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award, a New Jersey Press Association Award, and an IRNE Award (Independent Reviewers of New England). Deffaa's most recent plays include "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "Song-and-Dance Kids," "Presenting Fanny Brice," and "Theater Boys." All of Deffaa's plays are available for licensing. He is represented by the Fifi Oscard Agency, New York City. For more information, please visit: www.chipdeffaa.com.
Howard Cruse, who created the artwork, graphics, and logo that grace the front cover of this CD (and the poster for the show), is an internationally acclaimed cartoonist. He is the author of the award-winning graphic novel "Stuck Rubber Baby," and assorted collections of his comics, including "Wendel," "Dancin’ Nekkid with the Angels," and "The Other Side of Howard Cruse."
Frank Avelino, who did the design and layout of this CD (incorporating Howard Cruse’s logo designs and cover art) is a graphic designer who specializes in promotional art for theater and the performing arts. Among his most recent credits: doing the design and logo work for Chip Deffaa’s Off-Broadway show,
"One Night with Fanny Brice," and for Carl Kissin and Rob Baumgartner’s musical "Date of a Lifetime" (which he helped
Slau Halatyn, who recorded, mixed, and mastered this CD, has an international reputation in the recording field. He has served as recording engineer for two previous CD’s of Deffaa’s--the cast album of the Off-Broadway show "One Night with Fanny Brice" (Original Cast Records) and the premiere recording of
"Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge). This album was recorded at Dubway Studios, 42 Broadway, New York, NY, and at Halatyn’s own BeSharp Studios, 30-80 33rd St., Astoria, NY 11102.
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Credits and Acknowledgments...
Chip Deffaa is the executive producer of this CD.
Our deepest gratitude to our co-producers:
Dennis and Darleen Reid, Keith Anderson, and Louis P. Deffaa Sr.
We greatly appreciate the help of our associate producers:
Donnie Snyder and Andrea Oberheiden / www.aj-images.com.
Many thanks to our backers, without whose generous support this CD would not have been possible:
Roger Gindi, Amy Duncan, Agnes Dann, Elyse Derman, Bob Diamond, Judy Hennessey, Peter Dagger, Chuck Prentiss, Elaine Zimmer, George A. Golden, Don Brown, Dale Young, Dixie Melquist, Paul Mendenhall, Greg Irwin, Ira Goldberg, GailMaureen Ferraro, Joey G. Treggor, Peter Michael Marino, Kelly Feenan, Geri Reichgut, Linda Phillips, Susan Alcott Jardine, Joe DiLeo, Solomon Singer, Les Novitsky, Michael May, Deborah Grisorio, Ross Dodwell, Greg, Toni, Josh and Ava Schaller...
Our thanks, as well, to: Joseph Shapiro, Sharon A. Wilcox, Confetta Ras, Byron Eddy, Jaye Maynard, Paul Cornett, Lyle Ressler, Merrilee Trost, Dottie Wade, Tony Babino, Lauren Bianco, Sheila R. Riddle, Greg Bloomfield, Mark Satzman, Richard Faytak, Karen Ricciardi, Jan Nelson Miller, Ernie Page, David Lefkowitz / www.totaltheater.com, Gregory S. Andriate, Cindy Zweibel...
Our thanks, too, to: Laura Matson Hahn, Jackie Stubbs, Stevie Holland, Keith McElwee, Jon Lutyens, Lawrence Leritz, Jim Bleikam, Michelle Malik, Susan L. McCabe, Bob Koch, Ronni Richman Gerstel, Michael Sottile, Dennis Day/DDay Media Group Inc., Jan Hernstat, The Jolson Society / www.Jolson.org, Terri Hinte, Tom Gavin, Joanne Mezzatesta, Jerry Castaldo, Ray Marsilio, Sandra Holiday / The Anita Priest Whispering Angels Memorial Scholarship Foundation Inc., Abigail R. ("Susan") Mills, Carl Kissin, Jerry Wichinsky ....
Our thanks, also, to: Patrick Shank, John Wilwerding, Maria Judge, Jack Schiff, Marilyn Bojanowski, Sandy Denmark, Deb Deffaa, Max Deffaa, Julia Deffaa, Ciaran Sammon, Cindy Womack, Shari L. Greer and John T. Greer, Richard J. Jenkins Jr., Maryann Lopinto, Karen Kelly....
And for their help, in various ways, in the development process, we’d like to thank: Jack Saleeby, Clark Kinkade, Matthew Nardozzi, Ethan Haberfield, Alex Dreier, Zac Ballard, Missy Dreier, David Cronin, Dea Julien, Suzanne Dressler, Jason Steffan, Lynelle Johnson, Santino Fontana, Robert Micheli, David Herzog, Sophia Howes, David Colbert, Paul Iacono, J. F. Sprance III, Michael Knowles, Richard DeRosa, Chase Brock, Cristina Marie, Renee Purdy; Brandon Reid, Rayna Hirt, Eric Johnson, Youri Spindler, Mitch Schneider, Chris Campochiaro, Alyssa Campochiaro, Colin Pritchard, Raissa Katonah Bennett, Michael Dikegoros, Terry Hirt, Jimmy Bain, Barbara Reid, Marci Schein, Mike Ficcocelli, Bernice Burge,. Braden Bacon , Carson Sandiford, Dave Warren, Jeff Sewell, David J. Smith, Cody Green, Jamie DeRoy, Sharon Wilcox, Agnes Duggan Dann, Ed Bassett Jr., Ian Palmer, Michael Herwitz. Our thanks also, to our videographer, Domenic Del Carmine, and our aide-de-camp Alec Bordonaro. And to Bruce Yeko, President of Original Cast Records.
The music for "The Seven Little Foys" has been arranged primarily by Chip Deffaa. The music has been prepared primarily by Donald Brown and Richard Danley, both of whom made valuable additional arranging contributions. The project’s original music copyist was Chase Baird. Production photos were taken by Maryann Lopinto.
Our gratitude, always, for their encouragement and wisdom, to the one and only Carol Channing and to master song-and-dance man Tommy Tune (who always felt The Seven Little Foys should be a stage musical). Special thanks to the good folks at Cracking Inc. (C. A. McCarroll, J. M. McCarroll, principals); to the irrepressible Victoria L. Hoffman; to our audience-research consultants, Max and Julia Deffaa; to Korean producers Hansaem Song and Ungsuh Kenneth Park; to the late George Burns and Todd Fisher, for the tales they so generously shared from their early days in vaudeville, which influence this work; to show people Tyler Patterson, Okey Chenoweth, and Anthony Rapp, who’ve helped more than they realized; to ASCAPs unfailingly helpful musical-theatre expert, Michael Kerker; and to Ryan Foy and the Foy family. This album was recorded at Dubway and Be-Sharp Studios, NYC. The show has been developed by Chip Deffaa Productions LLC (Chip and Deb Deffaa, principals), with backing raised from our many supporters, via Kickstarter.
The Seven Little Foys was first presented in NYC at the New York International Fringe Festival (Elena K. Holy, Artistic Director), and was developed with the aid of the York Theatre Company (James Morgan, Artistic Director’ Stefanie Wagner, Director of Developmental Reading Series).
© and (P) by Chip Deffaa, 2012
The Seven Little Foys is available for licensing from The Fifi Oscard Agency (attention: Peter Sawyer), 110 West 40th Street, New York City 10018 USA, tel. (212) 764-1100.
(p) and © 2012 Chip Deffaa
Please visit: www.chipdeffaa.com
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REVIEWERS HAVE NOTED...
“The Seven Little Foys Provide Seven Little Joys,” wrote Barbara and Scott Siegel in “The Siegel Column” (TalkinBroadway.com). “It's an unexpected pleasure to discover a retro musical at The Fringe. Chip Deffaa's loving ode to a simpler form of musical comedy, built around the story of vaudeville-star Eddie Foy and his seven children, is a delightful charmer... Chip Deffaa has done a wonderful job of writing and directing this piece, keeping it well-paced and, most important, keeping its sentimentality honest and true.”
Rob Lester wrote on EdgeNewYork.com: “The Seven Little Foys is an old-fashioned charmer.....Leave it to Chip Deffaa, a lover of old-time show biz quality, to tell this story with affection and musical numbers that will leave you smiling. There’s a lot of heart in the show itself. This valentine to show business and family values is a pleasure to recommend..... Writer-director-arranger Chip Deffaa has written some very pleasing and attractive numbers. (Bravo!) The choreography is excellent...in this top-notch family show...”
"I went to see 'The Seven Little Foys' at the Fringe Festival because I remembered fondly the movie with Bob Hope. What I experienced was something far more creative, far more entertaining, far more original, and far better-acted than the movie was.... The kids playing the Seven Little Foys are special--each and every one of them a gem. Chip Deffaa wrote original music and also included songs of the period–a perfect mix. I hope this play goes beyond the Fringe. I hope it goes uptown and is able to be seen by more people, who'll enjoy it and learn from it...." David G. Meyers, WGBB-AM .
"Magnificent! I loved every moment of it..... The direction was superb, and the additional songs by Chip Deffaa were delightful. The show deserves to move to Broadway."
--Robert Dahdah, playwright/director (Curly McDimple, Dames at Sea)
Bettina Paley wrote, on BroadwayAfterDark.com, “Garnering kudos as the Fringe Festival's contribution to family fare, The Seven Little Foys takes a contemporary look at the family act that quickly became a national institution in the early 1900's.”
TIME OUT-NEW YORK noted: “The audience loved it, singing along and at times moved to tears..... The first act is mostly a vaudeville revue, with lots of old-timey favorites; in the second act, Deffaa adds original numbers, charmingly and lovingly choreographed. (Where did he find seven kids under 20 who can tap-dance so well?) If you’re a fan of old Broadway, you’ll get a kick out of The Seven Little Foys.”
"The Seven Little Foys brings back the good old days of great musicals....” --Barry Z, "BarryZShow.com"
On NYTheatre.com, David Fuller declared: “Writer-arranger-director Chip Deffaa has concocted a charming homage.... This is sweet nostalgia. The music is mostly early 20th century American, but also includes original tunes that echo the period and are written by Deffaa himself. The musical bits are geared to bring a smile to your face and a warm fuzzy feeling to your heart....This is a feel-good musical in the best sense of that adjective.”
Joe Franklin (Bloomberg Radio, WBBR-AM) raved: "I have rarely been so riveted to a stage.... This is what show business is really all about."
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