Dean Cestari

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Dean Cestari

Here and Now

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, April 21, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Dean Cestari

Dean Cestari brought youthful verve and vitality to his Feinstein’s/54 Below show which featured a classic combination of life story meets compelling Broadway songs. His uniqueness came in his willingness to share a vision for future progress as part of his good attitude vibe.

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With that effort, I am sure that he can deliver on his promise (from “Here I Come” by Jason Robert Brown) to “wink and kiss the life I knew goodbye.” His clean vocals came off as a little boy-band-ish, but desire and drive can stem out of the tiniest fanned flames.

Emily Kay Shrader (for a couple of songs) and Rodney Bush (MD/pianist) shared the limelight with Cestari as he fawned over his compatriots.

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While dreamily looking at his friend Shrader, he believingly serenaded her in a duet of her arrangement of  “Suddenly Seymour” (Alan Menken/Howard Ashman; Little Shop of Horrors). Forgetting how creepy a line like “Suddenly Seymour is standing beside you” can be, the song evolved into something almost believably romantic and the pair’s voices worked excellently together.

Cestari wasn’t that type of normal, however, and shared some of the difficulties, as a Long Island kid, of “loving The Wizard of Oz too much.” If there’s one thing for certain about the adult Cestari, it is that he isn’t afraid to reveal more than a little ambition performing songs like James Bay’s “Craving” and Kander and Ebb’s “First You Dream” (from Steel Pier). It’s an admirable amount of grit that has seen his career start to take shape.

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A show at 54 Below begins to establish him in New York City. Perhaps then, he will find his way to that special “somewhere over the rainbow” where the other half of his songs live. Keep it up, Dean.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see