Category: Category 1

Posted on February 23, 2024 by Alix Cohen in Playing Around

Woody Regan has been an MD/accompanist since 1982. At 80, this is his first solo show. Ably backed by bassist Ritt Henn, whose appreciation of the artist is infectiously visible, and by guitarist Phil Mougis, who also sings harmony, the evening emerges charming. Regan creates the coziness of a small town bar or family gathering. His is the kind of cool “uncle” persona that slips you more cookies when the folks say no.

Using “One of Those Songs” (Gerald Calvi/Will Holt) as nostalgic framework, the performer offers jaunty renditions of familiar songs by Berlin, Arlen and Mercer, Henderson and Brown. Except when turning pages, he looks at his audience. Now and then, a chuckle erupts.

Tender versions of “Anyone Can Whistle” (Stephen Sondheim) and “Being Green” (Joe Raposo) are prefaced by patter about Regan’s childhood with unnecessarily veiled reference to his being gay. We learn about the family being shuttled from city to city due to his father’s Naval postings, how Gommie (his grandmother) taught him to play by ear, and the way accompanying singers and dancers of all stripes in college honed versatility.

Texas-based story songs arrive winningly part parlando. Regan offers character voices drawing us in. The foot-tapping two steps are campfire warm. “Outside the sun is up/And the wind blows me like a paper cup…” Kris Kristofferson’s rarely heard “Here Comes That Rainbow Again” sustains good spirits.

Wry selections manifest Regan’s winking humor. “Always Say Hello to a Flower” (Murray Grand) and “The Gnu” (Michael Flanders/Donald Swan) with cartoon inflection – elicit a room full of grins. A curiously south of the border “Heartbroken in Hoboken” (Emily Katz) closes the parentheses. The braiding of “Vincent” (Don McLean) and “The Night We Called It A Day” (Matt Dennis/Tom Adair) is well crafted.

Only Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” fits neither show nor performer. This and its two succeeding selections also raise stress and volume absent from the rest of the show. A lilting “We’ll Meet Again” aptly says goodnight with a hug.

The beginning of a new chapter for Regan promises warm, tuneful fellowship to come.

Woody Regan: Those Wonderful Songs
Ritt Henn – Bass, Phil Mougis – Guitar/Vocal backup
Directed by Tanya Moberly
NYC Solo Cabaret Debut

Don’t Tell Mama 
343 West 46th Street