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JOHN DEAN

by R.F. Bourne

John Dean gave twenty years of splendid service to the D'Oyly Carte Company between 1926 and 1946. He joined in June 1926 as a chorister, and in July 1927 began to play small parts-very modest at first, such as First Yeoman. He became the regular Defendant in "Trial by Jury" in 1928, but had no other part of consequence until the following year, when he was seen regularly as Leonard Meryll and Luiz.

It was in 1930 that his repertoire really began to expand. He then became Box, and also made the roles of Tolloller and Cyril his own. He continued to play the same parts in "The Yeomen of the Guard" and "The Gondoliers", and was by now a very experienced Luiz.

Unlike some artists of the twenties, he never appeared for the "new" company. He was becoming very valuable by 1930, as he was now sharing the tenor roles with Charles Goulding, who, however, was doing the lion's share of the work. Gradually John had more opportunity to understudy the senior artist and to deputise for him when required.

By 1932 he had added Frederic to his repertoire, and the following year the Company included "The Sorcerer", making a total of twelve operas. John had now had experience of all the leading tenor parts except Ralph Rackstraw and Alexis, and seemed ready for a more prominent role in the Company. Owing to the return of Derek Oldham, however, this was delayed until August 1935, when he appeared as Ralph Rackstraw and had six leading parts.

Charles Goulding left the next year, and once again John, who had sustained nine roles for a brief period, had to contend with Derek Oldham coming back once more. Nevertheless he continued to play Cyril, as he had done for so long, and was also now the regular Richard Dauntless. This was Derek Oldham's last spell with D'Oyly Carte, and by the autumn of 1937 John Dean was at last the senior tenor. John Dudley shared the tenor parts with him until the outbreak of war, after which he was assisted, first by Ben Williams and then by Herbert Garry. He continued to be the Company's leading tenor, however, until he retired in August 1946.

Possessing a very clear pure voice and considerable acting ability, John in his time played every leading role, Alexis being added in 1937 and Marco during the 1939-1945 War. Although he waited long for these parts, his "Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes" and "A Wandering Minstrel I" compared favourably with those of most of the D'Oyly Carte tenors, while he gave a most attractive performance as Fairfax.

Hailing from the County of the Broad Acres, he always followed Yorkshire's fortunes at cricket with the keenest interest, while he often entertained local branches of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society. It is a matter of regret to many that there is no D'Oyly Carte recording of his voice.



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