Dean's CD, "Give My Regards to Broadway" Reviewed

GIL’S BROADWAY REVIEW: “THE BROADWAY SPIN”

Dean Regan may not be a name familiar to most Broadway audiences. But as someone who appeared in the First National Tour of “The Pirates of Penzance” as well as in the Broadway production of that show, and then appeared in many regional and West Coast productions of musicals as well as in various cabaret engagements, he has more than enough experience to pull off a nice collection of showtunes.

His debut CD, “Give My Regards to Broadway” is a representation of his concert of the same name that he has performed around the country. The recording combines many classic Broadway standards by Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Frank Loesser, Burton Lane and Yip Harburg, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Stephen Schwartz. Shows covered include “Guys and Dolls,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “Company,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Pirates of Penzance,” “Man of La Mancha,” “South Pacific” and “Wicked.” The recording is a nice variety of material, featuring romantic ballads, heartfelt songs and comical tunes and Regan delivers them with conviction and depth and meets the demands on just about every song on the CD.

For someone who made their Broadway debut 30 years ago, Regan’s voice is extremely strong and youthful. Now, most solo recordings made by those who aren’t Broadway “names” usually only feature piano accompaniment, but Regan has definitely made the right decision to have a group of musicians backing him up. One of the great things about the tracks on the recording is that each song’s arrangements don’t sound like the others. Some have more of a jazz sound, others are more in the Broadway standard arrangement style and still others have a Latin or comical tone. The credit for that has to go to Orchestrator and Music Supervisor Nick Fryman who also provided many of the arrangements. After listening to several other solo recordings from musical theatre performers that only feature piano or others where every song on the CD has a “jazz” or “broadway” style arrangement, this is a welcome touch, and along with Regan’s more than capable skills, makes this recording one that warrants a lot of repeat play.

The recording starts off with a very upbeat version of “Give My Regards to Broadway.” I love how the arrangement adds in a few lines from “On Broadway,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and “New York, New York.” Regan’s fun and lively performance perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the songs to follow. You know you’ll be in good hands based on this track alone.

“Luck Be a Lady” from “Guys and Dolls” has a great Latin feel to it, and Regan has a lot of fun, starting out nice and slow and then really building the song to a nice conclusion. “Not a Day Goes By” is a fairly standard delivery of this classic Sondheim gem from “Merrily We Roll Along” but is delivered in a nice, somewhat understated though very clear way.

“Old Devil Moon” from “Finian’s Rainbow” is one of my favorite showtunes and I absolutely love the arrangement by Tom Griep on this CD that includes beautiful piano playing and a pounding percussion beat. Regan more than delivers on this track, he has a great time “swinging'” it and the end is perfection. “Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera” has a lush, full arrangement and Regan does a nice job with it, enunciating the lyrics but giving a nice theatrical touch to the song as well.

“Everybody Says Don’t” from Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle,” is simply beautiful. The way Regan is able to speak/sing some of the lyrics perfectly captures the discussional and somewhat confessional style of the song. This is followed by a heartfelt “Being Alive” from “Company” with a simple, straightforward arrangement that begins slow and builds in tandem with Regan’s delivery of the song. Regan must have made a pretty good “Bobby” in the LA production he did of this show, which he won several awards for.

“Once in Love with Amy” is probably the least known track on the recording, or should I say from the least known musical “Where’s Charley?” Regan nicely captures the romantic and upbeat nature of this love song. Again, the arrangement is completely unlike any of the others on the CD, and perfectly works with Regan’s performance of the song. The eight minute “Man of La Mancha” track includes the chance for Regan to show more of his acting abilities as it starts out with a few lines of dialogue from the show and includes “I, Don Quixote,” “Dulcinea,” “To Each His Dulcinea,” and “The Impossible Dream.” It is a nice track that perfectly captures some of the best music from this show and Regan more than delivers on each of the songs included.

Regan has a lot of fun with Penzance’s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.” It is the patter song to end all patter songs and Regan has no problem navigating around the lyrics as they get faster and faster. I love the horse sound effect used in the song. “This Nearly Was Mine” from “South Pacific” has a lovely arrangement and Regan attempts to capture the pain behind the lyrics, and while he nearly pulls it off, his delivery is a little too styled and not quite strong enough to deliver what this song requires, so he doesn’t quite bring the song to the heights that a few others have been able to take it to. It is a good attempt but just doesn’t quite make it.

The recording ends with two songs from “Wicked,” and after the selections above of songs from shows that are mainly from the 1940’s to 1980’s these last two very modern songs seem a little out of odds with what has come before. However Regan gives them his all and his recording of “Defying Gravity” has to be one of the first recorded by a male. The arrangement of that song sounds so full and almost on par with what you’d hear on Broadway. The percussion and trumpet touches are really nice, so a big shout out to Fryman on his arrangement for this song. The recording ends with Wicked’s “For Good” and it is a nice way to end the CD as Regan perfectly captures the meaning behind the lyrics of learning and growing from the people you’ve known along your journey.

Recommended

Gil’s Broadway Blog
September, 2011
www.gilsbroadwayblog.blogspot.com


THEATREMANIA REVIEW: “DELIGHTFUL DISCS”

Roughly 120 years of musical theater are represented on this genuinely satisfying disc, which displays the singer’s deftly light touch with material that ranges from a classic patter song (Gilbert & Sullivan’s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” from The Pirates of Penzance) to modern power ballads like Wicked’s showstopping “Defying Gravity.” The material has been lavishly arranged for a nine-piece ensemble, and among the other highlights are a grand medley from Man of La Mancha and a brassy and swingin’ “Luck Be a Lady” (from Guys and Dolls).

Andy Propst
TheatreMania
August, 2011


CABARET SCENES REVIEW

Any listener with ear half-cocked to this pumped-up, drama-stoked, well-chosen collection of tunes from the B’way boards, is very quickly aurally informed that Dean Regan is a performer to be reckoned with. A formidable voice, wielded with strong, well-handled, off-hand hands-on command, and unabashed personality placement ever front and center, he has the chops to deliver quite a musical blow. Time after time he does. The vivacious orchestrations—with George M. Cohan’s anthemic title tune—immediately and thereafter feed the expected show-stopping stage excitement and urge the singer foward. Over and over Mr. Regan rises to the musical challenge. And then some. See, sometimes it seems he seduces himself with too much styling, abandons melody with cavalier choice, and crooningly crosses over, and over-emotes to become more Vegas Viagra than Broadway belt—an otherwise adept vibrant vocalist/ actor over the top when the top was more than tops enough. Too often, he strangely covers notes or occasionally neglects to round them out when he has shown himself quite capable of producing and presenting them perfectly. Listen to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s darkly drawn “This Nearly Was Mine” for a fascinating mix of both sides of this coin that is ever so slightly tarnished, but practically pure gold. Speaking of which, a Tony-deserving platinum tour-de-force reading is given to the brilliantly performed (and quirkily, but cleverly, included) Gilbert & Sullivan’s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.”
Dean Regan: he generally am a very major modern Broadway musical model.

Noah Tree
Cabaret Scenes
July 2011
www.CabaretScenes.org



TALKIN’ BROADWAY REVIEW

Juicy and jubilant, you can feel the joy that Dean Regan has running through and relishing his material. Like a kid in a candy store, he has a sweet tooth for Broadway’s bounty of riches. Wrapping himself in the characters’ personalities and viewpoints, making a splash by jumping into the zingier songs, going for a high note and unafraid of high drama, he has a field day. Beginning with the sound of an orchestra tuning up and an audience’s expectant applause (corny, perhaps, but is there anything like that exciting anticipatory moment in a theatre?), he’s off to a fine start with the album’s title song. Rather than the easy choices of either a gleeful gallop of unbridled enthusiasm or misty-eyed nostalgia, a tight little vamp and bass line, with a finger-snapping rhythm, sets the pace with tension itching for release, freshening the 107-year-old George M. Cohan. It builds, including snippets from a few related songs and becomes truly celebratory and infectious. The arrangement is a collaboration among Barry Kleinbort, David Gaines, and the CD’s musical supervisor and anchoring keyboard player, Nick Fryman. Following this, we race through Broadway gold, slam-bam-wham with a bit of ham, including two frolics by Frank Loesser (a fervent “Luck Be a Lady” and a playful prance through the charmer “Once in Love with Amy”), three pieces by Stephen Sondheim, and Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked ending the program with back-to-back fervent, focused performances of “Defying Gravity” and “For Good.”

Obvious respect for the original contexts is present, with most numbers recalling the musical blueprints and theatrical origins, while the energy and commitment keeps things from feeling like slavish do-overs from the recycling pile. Some stay firmly in their architecture, including tempi and some familiar accompaniment figures, but “Everybody Says Don’t” is a notable and intriguing exception. Rather than the familiar insistent briskness, it cuts those reins and begins more thoughtfully and gently, out of tempo, bringing new spotlight to the lyrics and their advocacy for risk. The speed picks up as things progress, but, to quote the song, “sometimes you gotta start small”—and it ends big and bold. It doesn’t ever become too leisurely, as the track comes in at just under three minutes. Likewise, the other two Sondheim selections, “Not a Day Goes By” and “Being Alive,” while more traditional, are also short and to the point (2:22 and 2:46, respectively) and hit their emotional marks without the melodrama or hand-wringing singing that some opt for with these numbers. On the more generous side, in drama and time—over eight minutes long—is a satisfying centerpiece suite of in-character songs from Man of La Mancha. Displaying the leading character’s regrets and determined optimism, Dean shines in this tour de force like the would-be still-gleaming armor of his knightly hero. “To Each His Dulcinea,” dripping with noble entitlement is at least as powerful as the expected climax of “The Impossible Dream” (“The Quest”).

The voice is clear, the diction generally good, although there’s a casualness, too, there (for example, in “Not a Day Goes By”‘s line, “I need you to stay” note the vowel sounds pronounced as “I need ya t’ stay”.) However, when a character is more formal, he adopts that like an actor changing costume easily and willingly. The accompaniment also changes from track to track, with eight musicians playing a variety of instruments. The sound and production are generally good, occasionally busy or pumping more drama than needed for the ready Regan who has much of the drama goods to deliver just in his attitudes and voice.

Dean seems to have as much fun zipping through Finian’s Rainbow’s lovestruck “Old Devil Moon” as he does galloping through the tongue-twisting patter song “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,” complete with the last chorus at increased speed. It comes from Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic The Pirates of Penzance, the show whose New York City revival 30 years ago gave our vocalist his moment in the Broadway sun as a cast member; he also was part of the tour. Other theater roles followed, taking him around the country and jobs singing on cruise ships in concert took him around the world. The Chicago-born actor is now based in Los Angeles, but returned to New York in March to present a preview of this material in a polished nightclub act I caught at the Metropolitan Room. Some songs, on disc and in person, feel stubbornly entrenched in their theatrical roots, and more personalization and scaling down might be in order to make his work more “cabaret”-communicative than concertizing. Revealing himself even more through the songs, showing who he is, rather than “trying on” iconic theater characters, would be the next step. Likewise, less reliance on numbers so often tackled by “Best of Broadway”-type shows would be welcome.

Rob Lester
Talkin’ Broadway
June 2011
www.talkinbroadway.com

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[Dean’s] “Give My Regards to Broadway” was dynamic and so full of energy and beautiful music that it provided a great afternoon for our members and one which they will remember for a very long time.
B. Hardie, North San Luis Obsispo County Concert Association

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