Vaudeville and vintage musical comedy may be dead but the ghost of the emperor of that era resurrects them in Broward Stage Door’s enthusiastic revival of the one-man George M. Cohan Tonight!
Jon Peterson, who has been impersonating Cohan in Chip Deffaa’s show on and off since 2006, has every vocal flourish and hand gesture of this two-act biographical revue polished to a high gloss, only outshone by his determined smile and an irresistible charisma.
It’s a matter of taste whether you’re interested in 27 songs charting a simpler time for middle class WASPs dating back to before the turn of the century and ending near the start of World War II. But you could not ask for a better guide than Peterson’s archetypal song-and-dance man.
The child prodigy Cohan remade himself from a vaudeville hoofer into an endlessly hyphenated multi-tasker who contributed to the evolution of European-style operetta into story-driven if featherweight American musical comedy.
Peterson literally is a bit more breathless between numbers these days, but he still summons up more energy than an entire chorus line of 42nd Street and sends it flowing across the invisible footlights like an electrical storm surge.