BY GEORGE J. DACRE
This is a rollicking, fast stepping musical about a man who has been called the father of musical comedy, George M. Cohan.
Born way back in 1878 on the third of July, later adapted to the fourth, little George started out with the Cohan Family in Vaudeville with his father Jerry, his mother, Nellie, and his sister, Rosie. He created a trademark thank you…”My father thanks you, my mother thanks you, my sister thanks you and I thank you.”
Then he had a role in “Peck’s Bad Boy” in 1890 and made it to Broadway by the early 1900s. The rest is musical show history with Cohan writing, producing, directing and acting, dancing and singing in a string of musicals, many with a strong patriotic touch that kept he and has family active for decades.
The Westchester Broadway show, “George M,” starring John Sherer as Cohan, starts off in Providence, Rhode Island with Jerry Cohan and Little Girl and always leave them laughing. Then it is on to Cedar Rapids, boarding houses and always with George driving to get to the Great White Way in New York. He never gave up and always had the ability to come up with another tune, another show.
WBT’s production, directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford with musical director Leo P. Carusone is able to project the story of “George M” very well and it is a musical joy to fans of such tunes as “Over There,” “You’re A Grand Old Flag,” “A Ring To The Name Of Rosie,” “Give My Regards To Broadway,” “Forty Five Minutes From Broadway,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and the rest of the great Cohan tunes.
Sherer is at the top of his performance as George M and Jim Walton is excellent in his role as George’s father. Amanda Trusty as Josie Cohan has great charisma and show business will see a lot more of her. Melodie Wofford is just right as Nellie Cohan.
George M could not have come along at a better time in these days of economic problems, wars and general political turmoil. Cohan who received a medal from the U.S.A. for “Over There” came along at the right time in history with this country embroiled in a World War and somehow the outright patriotism of the Cohan songs is something that is needed now in this nation.
The cast is great, the ensemble wonderful and the costuming outstanding for this great musical and I rate it Four Stars Out of Four!!!! Go see it and feel good. The 175th production by the producers Bob Funking and Bill Stutler is a good show. Tickets at 914-592-2222 or broadwaytheatre.com.