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Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011

A Tribute to Hollywood Song and Dance

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Song Man Dance Man, the Stackner Cabaret's new musical tribute to seven Hollywood song-and-dance legends, proves highly entertaining, but develops slowly. Jon Peterson, who created the show and performs it solo, had his hands full from the outset. He is not the greatest of singers and doesn't cast an especially imposing presence, but his zeal, energy and exuberance carried the evening despite the strain of having to narrate, sing, dance and change costumes on cue while maintaining an ongoing string of clever anecdotes. Nevertheless, his wit remained infectious. Not surprisingly, Peterson made frequent drink stops, but his timing never flagged and he was supported by an exceptional pianist in Jack Forbes Wilson, who was so terrific in last year's Liberace.

The Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Donald O'Connor numbers are too well known via TCM to imitate easily, but Peterson's affectionate renditions—sincere and guileless—gently induced the viewer to suspend comparisons through "Singing in the Rain" and "It Only Happens When I Dance with You." George M. Cohan and Anthony Newley were treated lovingly as the show took a darker turn in the second act.

In the concluding portion, Peterson brought greater dimension to the show, lavishing poignant detail into his narration of the tragic circumstances which prematurely shortened the careers of Bobby Darin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Here, his vocal renditions, especially of "Mack the Knife," suited him admirably. The show ended on a nostalgic note but with a finer degree of poignancy providing a more satisfying conclusion.