Reviewer: Janet Martineau
Venue: The State Theatre
So who needs singer Dionne Warwick anyway?
Or for that matter, composer Burt Bacharach himself at the piano?
As evidence… this weekend when the Saginaw Choral Society presented a 90-minute program called “Cabaret! The Best of Bacharach” at the State Theater in Bay City.
Nine dynamic singers most of whom really know how to sell a song, 20 Bacharach tunes, and Kevin “Mr. Gershwin” Cole himself at the piano. I mean, come on.
And add into that an absolutely brilliant script and direction and set by Ric Roberts.
Heaven, we were in heaven.
Can’t list all of the cast members or songs in interest of length.
But oh my God did Stephanie Bale soar in a jazzy rendition of “Always Something There to Remind Me.”
Kudos also to Roberts and three silent animated gals in the hilarious “What’s New Pussycat?”…Nancy Stevenson in “Alfie” … Julie Mulady in “One Less Bell to Answer” and Jim Smerdon in “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” both so wistful and tender and heartfelt … Kevin Simons in everything he did, including on Saturday afternoon apparently scaring the heck out of Roberts.
Like we said, great actors in sellling a song, as well as singing it superbly.
And then there was Cole with a Bacharach medley at his piano. This guy writes arrangements and medleys that are in the Grammy range.
The setting was a bar with numerous tables, a piano, and a bar with a bartender. The narrated storyline weaving various very human stories as each singer is portraying a character, leading effortlessly into them singing a song about it. Direction that kept the cast animated and in character and relating to each other when they were not singing, and moving… like a play does.
But as a writer myself, I have one major complaint.
Why was this titled “The Best of Bacharach” when indeed the vast majority of songs were showcasing lyrics written by his longtime partner Hal David.
Granted it is composer Bacharach‘s catchy tunes that we all remember within a few notes, but it is the lyrics of most of those songs that have for years touched something in us. They are is just as important as the music. That most of us remember just as much and can sing along to.
Just like with Elton John getting all the hype with lyricist Bernie Taupin getting little notice.
Take as an example, the entire cast singing “What the World Needs Now Is Love” … its lyrics meaning more than ever currently.
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