1. © Johan Persson
    © Johan Persson
  2. © Johan Persson
    © Johan Persson
  3. © Johan Persson
    © Johan Persson
  4. © Nobby Clark
    © Nobby Clark

    Kyle Riabko in 'What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined'

  5. © Nobby Clark
    © Nobby Clark

    Kyle Riabko, Anastacia McCleskey and Stephanie McKeon in 'What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined'

  6. © Nobby Clark
    © Nobby Clark

    Kyle Riabko Stephanie McKeon and Anastacia McCleskey in 'What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined'

  7. © Nobby Clark
    © Nobby Clark

    Anastacia McCleskey Daniel Bailen and Kyle Riabko in 'What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined'

  8. © Nobby Clark
    © Nobby Clark

    The cast of 'What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined'

  9. © Nobby Clark
    © Nobby Clark

    The cast of 'What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined'

  10. © Nobby Clark
    © Nobby Clark

    Cast of 'What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined'

  11. © Nobby Clark
    © Nobby Clark

    Kyle Riabko in 'What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined'

  • Theatre, Musicals

Close to You Bacharach Reimagined

Grindingly dull night of anodyne Burt Bacharach covers

Andrzej Lukowski
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Time Out says

Close To You’ – formerly ‘What’s It All About?’ – is a celebration of the vast back catalogue of octogenarian MOR-dispenser Burt Bacharach, in which a bunch of fresh-faced, perma-grinning performers give BB’s copious greatest hits a sort of terrifyingly earnest acoustic rock makeover.

They’re led by Kyle Riabko, a technically proficient Canadian who decided he wanted to recruit a young, enthusiastic band for what is, in essence, a tribute concert with bells on.

Probably I am either too young, too old or too grumpy to be this show’s target audience. It’s worth noting that ‘What’s It All About?’ enjoyed cult success in New York and at our very own Menier Chocolate Factory before changing its name to that of a more famous Bacharach song for this West End transfer.

But still, I see lots of shows not aimed at me and I rarely find them as weirdly alienating as this. Director Steven Hoggett’s admittedly nifty staging sets his cast in a sort of exploded living room set, with the suggestion that the performers are just a bunch of young pals, hangin’ out and soberly jammin’ out a bit of Burt. But why would they do this? Why are they relentlessly smiling? Why do all the songs sound so similar, even when there are clunky attempts to dabble with reggae, soul, blues, even rock? Seriously, why are they smiling all the time? Are they supposed to be in a cult? It that it?

Riabko is clearly a gifted young man, but his skilled arrangements are excruciatingly bland, completely adrift from any modern musical trends, about as iconoclastic as a Buckingham Palace garden party. And trying to pointedly sculpt Bacharach’s songs into a celebration of youth is weird when the best songs have already been popularised by well-known names who were young when they first sang them: Cilla; Dusty; The Carpenters; The White Stripes – whose incendiary rendition of ‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself’ seems to be referenced by the piss-weak blues version here. It’s only a raucous ‘What the World Needs Now is Love’ that comes across like it’s being played by an actual band at a gig.

The show is subtitled ‘Bacharach reimagined’, but this is just dull, worshipful homage, no imagination to it.

Details

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Price:
£20-£50. Runs 2hr 15min
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