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Time Out Theater Review: ‘What's It All About?’

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The music of Burt Bacharach takes center stage in the new off-Broadway revue, "What's It All About?" Time Out New York's David Cote filed the following review for NY1.

“What’s It All About?: Bacharach Reimagined” isn’t the first tribute show built around the Burt Bacharach pop catalog. That distinction goes to “The Look of Love,” a jukebox musical by the Roundabout Theatre Company that flopped on Broadway ten years ago.

This new show is more intimate and youthful, which suits its 30-odd hit ditties about loving, longing and breaking up.

This bookless revue is the brainchild of Broadway performer Kyle Riabko, who has a beautiful clear tenor and serious musical chops. Riabko has cleverly re-arranged Bacharach standards such as “Do You Know the Way to San José,” “Say a Little Prayer,” “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and the title song, giving them an indie-rock feel.

If you come in expecting the golden oldies in their original retro form—bossa nova grooves and strings—you’ll be surprised. Riabko and his frisky six-member team strip the songs down or splice them into medleys. Thematically, the tunes cover a narrow band of emotion: love and, well, falling out of love. So, not a deep musical well here, but the performers are all cute and very talented.

Christine Jones swaddles the interior of New York Theatre Workshop in carpets, padding and other materials, creating a cozy crazy-quilt playground. By the sixty-minute mark of the production, sensitively staged and choreographed by Steven Hoggett, some of the slow jams get a bit repetitive, but if you come for mood and ear candy, it’s an agreeable 90-minute date show.

“What’s It All About?” is a modest, well-crafted diversion, one that should delight older Bacharach fans and possibly attract younger ones.

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