A Distinctive Pop Voice, Refreshed Off-Broadway

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The cast of 'What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined' at New York Theatre Workshop. The cast of 'What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined' at New York Theatre Workshop. (Joan Marcus)

When it comes to the songs of Burt Bacharach, you know more than you think you do. Bacharach, best known for his collaborations with lyricist Hal David, has written in a style that is very much a hybrid of pop, jazz and his own unique touch. His songs have surprising chord progressions and even more surprising rhythmic changes and yet they’re real pop tunes — catchy and sing-along-able.

For the movies, Bacharach and David wrote the theme from “Alfie” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” For Broadway, they wrote the score of Promises, Promises, which includes “I Say a Little Prayer for You” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” two songs that were big hits for singer Dionne Warwick. In all, Bacharach has placed 73 songs in Billboard magazine’s Top 40 music chart. We told you that you know more Bacharach than you think.

But can the quirky, catchy songs of Bacharach be refreshed for a new generation? That’s a question posed in the new off-Broadway musical What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined. The show, conceived by Kyle Riabko and David Lane Seltzer, and starring Riabko and a half-dozen other singer-instrumentalists, is directed by Steven Hoggett in a production at New York Theatre Workshop. New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood shares his impressions.

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Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

Burt Bacharach studied with Milhaud. I've always enjoyed his film scores for Peter Sellers such as "What's New, Pussycat?", and "After the Fox" (both of which were orchestrated by Charles Blackwell), and "Casino Royale". Bacharach has a wealth of exprience in and with jazz and it shows up in "My Little Red Book" with A flat minor seven resolving to g minor seven, which really does it for me! He uses polymeters in the broadway title song "Promises, Promises". These delights --- and much more --- it seems to me were hardly predictable from his beguiling first hit "Magic Moments" sung by Perry Como. In short, you have to be a real musician to play and sing his work and do justice to it, and one can only hope the current up-and-coming generation are equally entranced as those of us who grew up listening to his work.

Dec. 11 2013 09:53 AM

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