Drew An­thony re­turns to Shu­bert in ‘Dean Lives’

North Haven-raised singer in cast of ‘Rat Pack’

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - A + E - By Joe Amarante ja­ma­rante@nhreg­is­ter.com @Joeammo on Twit­ter

NEW HAVEN » “Mem-ories are... made of this,” Dean Martin sang.

And based on Drew An­thony’s mem­o­ries, plus re­search and chats with fans, Martin’s en­dur­ing ap­peal lies in this: “He was a very sin­cere per­former that peo­ple just loved . ... Peo­ple will al­ways say, ‘I loved Si­na­tra but Dean was my fa­vorite.’”

An­thony should know; he’s New Haven’s fa­vorite Dean Martin im­per­son­ator who was raised nearby but worked for years in Las Vegas.

Backed by mul­ti­me­dia vi­su­als and a 12-piece orches­tra, “Rat Pack is Back!” star An­thony brings his re­cent side project to the Shu­bert in “Dean Lives” Satur­day at 8 p.m.

The idea came to him a while back dur­ing a few-months lull in his other­wise-steady gig as Dean Martin in “The Rat Pack Re­turns” in Las Vegas.

He knew he was a nat­u­ral as Martin, based on re­sponses from fans, so he de­cided to put to­gether a show with just Dean Martin.

“But I didn’t want to just go out there and sing songs for 90 min­utes ... be­cause it’s bor­ing for the au­di­ence when it’s the same thing.”

He de­cided to add story and other char­ac­ters.

“My goal was to create a show about Dean Martin that kind of had dif­fer­ent mo­ments of his ca­reer,” he said.

The re­sult is a show in three acts, one about Dean and Jerry Lewis (who died re­cently), one about the Vegas years and the third about “The Dean Martin Show” years.

He added a “care­taker”/long­time friend of Martin char­ac­ter to share his mem­o­ries of Dean’s life and set up scenes and songs with An­thony as Dean, a woman play­ing Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, an­other peg­ging Peggy Lee and guys play­ing Lewis and Johnny Car­son. It fi­nally hit the stage in Jan­uary 2017.

“I did it twice al­ready in Ohio,” stub­bornly re­fus­ing to change the script de­spite ac­tors’ sug­ges­tions, he said, “and we had about 1,600 peo­ple show up and it re­ally was amaz­ing. I was proud of ev­ery­thing.”

The North Haven High grad at­tended the New School Univer­sity’s jazz col­lege in Man­hat­tan, where he stud­ied with some well-known jazz mu­si­cians and vo­cal coaches. He re­turned to Con­necti­cut and played in a band do­ing Amer­i­can stan­dards that was seen fre­quently at Con­necti­cut’s two huge casi­nos.

But it all started with his Ital­ian fam­ily up­bring­ing.

An­thony (born An­drew Car­rano) be­gan singing with fam­ily. He was in­spired by his grand­mother, Marie An­toinette Ros­setti Car­rano, who loved to sing and play the pi­ano and gui­tar. He would spend time with her lis­ten­ing to Nat King Cole records, sing and have Ital­ian cof­fee.

“At the time, they were just her songs, you know, Amer­i­can stan­dards, and I’d sing along with her,” said An­thony. “And I liked the melodies and the words of those songs.”

Jazz school al­lowed him to work on the stan­dards in a dif­fer­ent way, while learn­ing im­por­tant things about mu­sic and vo­cal­iz­ing.

He formed his trio and quar­tet to do stan­dards in the Wolf Den at Mo­he­gan Sun, for in­stance, also oc­ca­sion­ally per­form­ing in New Jersey casi­nos.

And then in 2006 he took his tal­ents to Las Vegas, for its many lounge mu­sic op­por­tu­ni­ties. He sang the stan­dards there, un­til some­one sug­gested he try out for the “Rat Pack” show, where a 10-year suc­cess as Dean Martin fol­lowed.

“Luck­ily, the tim­bre is sim­i­lar to Dean’s. By no means am I ex­actly like Dean. I’m closer than I would be if I wasn’t play­ing Dean, but the tim­bre’s the same, the per­son­al­ity is sim­i­lar be­cause I’m all-Ital­ian, I grew up in Con­necti­cut . ... All my re­search that I’ve done ... watch­ing him and get­ting his mind­set, it’s very sim­i­lar...”

To get the job, he au­di­tioned briefly and then subbed for the reg­u­lar Dean for two years be­fore win­ning the job per­ma­nently. It led to “Rat Pack” per­for­mances at the Shu­bert in New Haven be­fore home­town fans in 2011 (and again in 2012).

“That was a good time,” An­thony said. “My (ma­ter­nal) grand­mother was alive at the time and she got to see the show, and of course my mother and my fa­ther, every­body was there. So that was a special mo­ment.”

An­thony has much grat­i­tude for the great singers and the mu­sic they made.

“It’s just an honor to do it, and I love the mu­sic. It’s amaz­ing for any of these peo­ple, like Si­na­tra or Elvis, that they can touch peo­ple to the de­gree that peo­ple want to go out and see some­body else per­form the songs, even long af­ter they’re gone . ... And ‘The Dean Martin Show’ had a lot of ef­fect on peo­ple; they watched him ev­ery week. He was in the liv­ing room.”

CON­TRIB­UTED

Drew An­thony as Dean Martin.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Drew An­thony, backed by an orches­tra, as Dean Martin.

CON­TRIB­UTED

In an Ohio per­for­mance of “Dean Lives,” Drew An­thony and Vanessa Ralls as Peggy Lee.

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