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What’s It All About? – Bacharach Reimagined

Music by Burt Bacharach, Lyrics by Hal David and Others
New York Theatre Workshop, New York

Front: Nathaly Lopez, Laura Dreyfuss, Kyle Riabko. Back: James Williams, James Nathan Hopkins, Daniel Woods, Daniel Bailen Credit: Joan Marcus

Burt Bacharach was undoubtedly one of the most popular composers of the 1960s to 1980s. Even those that don’t know his name will be familiar with many of his songs, nine of which hit Number 1.

Musician Kyle Riabco reveres the great man and decided to create this gently unusual tribute. Where the general drift these days is towards mock bands replicating concerts, Riabco has come up with something a little different.

He has taken two steps that make this evening special. First, he has rearranged the music into a wide variety of styles, everything from R&B to easy listening and even punk rock.

Secondly, Riabco has enlisted the directing services of Steven Hoggett, the man of the moment since he is currently involved with four shows on and off Broadway plus more in London.

This 90-minute presentation by seven versatile musicians led by Kyle Riabco has been meticulously directed to add a visual element to what would otherwise be little more than a laid-back musical rendition.

The musicians move around the busy stage a great deal, hefting instruments and furnishings around what looks like a messy studio, complete with guitars and sofas (sometimes occupied) suspended from the walls.

Even so, what most punters will have in mind when they book seats for What’s It All About? is a chance to relive the joys of their youth and hear the songs that helped them fall in love or forget the sadness when the passion died or walked out of the door.

This show contains many of the BB favourites including the title song (“Alfie”), “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”, “Walk on By”, and as an encore “What’s New Pussycat?”

Not all that many are played through, as this arranger likes repetition and segues rather than complete songs.

The result is a slickly produced delight that will have fans of Burt Bacharach’s music in raptures but may not have all that wide an appeal to agnostics.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher