Friday, September 23, 2011

cd review - Dean Regan - Give My Regards to Broadway

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 make this recording one that warrants alot 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 then 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.


Regan is performing the cabaret version of his show, “Give My Regards to Broadway” at Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret in Chicago, this weekend, Sat., Sept. 24th at 8 pm and Sun., Sept. 25th at 7 pm and Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency in New York City, Sun., Oct. 2nd, 8:30pm.  Check his website below for information on getting tickets to those shows as well as information on his other upcoming concerts.

Dean's official website

Interview with Dean about the cd -

Dean's concert promo video -

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