Previewed 3 October 2015, Opened 15 October 2015, Closed 14 February 2016 at the Criterion Theatre in London
Kyle Riabko 'reimagines' Burt Bacharach's celebrated songbook in a range of exciting new interpretations.
Kyle Riabko leads a talented group of young performers through Burt Bacharach's classic melodies, blending nostalgia and innovation, where generations old and new can revel in the joy of the Bacharach catalogue as if for the very first time. Presented with the blessing of Burt Bacharach who says that "Kyle has done something truly unique with my music." This production transfers to London's West End following an acclaimed season at the Menier Chocolate Factory in South East London in July 2015 when this production was titled: "What's It All About?"
Conceived by Kyle Riabko and David Lane Seltzer with music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David and others, musical arrangements by Kyle Riabko. Directed by Steven Hoggett with set designs by Christine Jones and Brett Banakis, costumes by Matthew Wright, lighting by Tim Lutkin and sound by Richard Brooker. Steven Hoggett's London theatre credits include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre 2016), The Full Monty (Noel Coward Theatre 2014), Once the Musical (Phoenix Theatre 2013), The Curious Incident Of The Dog In Night-Time (Cottesloe Theatre 2012, Apollo Theatre 2013, Gielgud Theatre 2014) and American Idiot (Apollo Theatre Hammersmith 2012). This production originally staged at London's Menier Chocolate Factory under the title What's It All About? when it previewed from 33 July 2015, opened on 15 July 2015 and closed on 5 September 2015.
When this production opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory in July 2015, Neil Norman in the Daily Express highlighted that "in an age of jerry-built jukebox musicals this show is a little gem... musicians and singers run through the songs without discernible breaks but it's what they do with them that is impressive... it is an achingly hip musical evening performed by some of the coolest guys in town." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times explained that "Kyle Riabko's beguiling show is a jukebox musical with a twist and a great deal of charm... The 27-year-old Riabko and his versatile onstage companions deliver the songs in new and varied musical arrangements that make them feel fresh, spontaneous — even raw sometimes... They deploy a huge range of acoustic and electric instruments to restyle much-loved classics without losing their essence. It’s an affectionate, reflective tribute, low on substance but high on wistful appeal." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph commented that the show "feels like the sort of exercise in puppyish fandom that you need to be a diehard Bacharachian to savour... the evening - which offers no bio-drama, no back-story, no declared connection between the seven singer-musicians and the songs - doesn't strike enough emotional chords... as it is, it resembles a deluxe species of theatrical wallpaper." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail explained how "a few numbers are given full run-throughs, but most are chopped and liquidised, diced and remixed. Practically the whole thing is given a strong, almost insistent beat by a cool percussionist called James Williams... yet it is ferociously clever and will get a new generation hooked on Bacharach's melodies." Kate Maltby in the Times said that "there's no doubting Riabko's technical skill in weaving together a continuous web of sound from Bacharach's individual pieces. A range of musical styles is on show, from punk to calypso, although it's best when he keeps it simple." Michael Billington in the Guardian thought that "this blithe and inventive show...is cleverly staged by Steven Hoggett... this is no routine jukebox musical but a genuine reappraisal of the venerable Burt." Paul Taylor in the Independent wrote that "pangs of nostalgia overlap with shivers of pleasure at the unexpected as you listen to over thirty Burt Bacharach classics given an exhilaratingly fresh new spin in the updated arrangements of 27 year old Kyle Riabko. He leads a crack seven-strong bunch of young singer-instrumentalists in a ninety minute journey through the back catalogue of one of all-time greats and it feels like an inspiring feat of cross-generational creativity." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard described how Kyle Riabko "often makes the songs feel like rediscoveries, infusing them with jolts of rock or a light folksy charm... We repeatedly feel the joy, tenderness and melancholy of Bacharach’s art and are treated to an exhibition of skilful musicianship."
"Kyle Riabko and a group of talented young performers take Burt Bacharach out of the world of Easy Listening and into that of the acoustic guitar... Charmingly informal, What's It All About? suggests a group of teenagers enjoying a jam session in a junk-filled garage. The subtlety of Bacharach's melodies can be lost amid the abrasive drum beats and heavy metal riffs, but enough remains to satisfy even a purist such as myself." The Sunday Express
"Kyle Riabko fell in love with Burt Bacharach's extraordinary catalogue of music and wanted to celebrate it. The result is both a gig and a love letter, every single note of it. Riabko has rearranged and wholly reimagined dozens of the Bacharach numbers... under Steven Hoggett’s expert direction, some numbers get an a cappella makeover with a Motown style line-up of perfectly drilled singers; others, with Riabko jumping like Mick Jagger and making his guitar scream, get the rock concert treatment. And Anastacia McClesky’s soulful Don’t Make Me Over quietly raises the roof. A must for anyone who has a heart." The Mail on Sunday
"This chamber show, seen in New York in 2013, is less a jukebox musical than a sentimental journey through Burt Bacharach 's toothsome back catalogue. Kyle Riabko, who leads the cast and co-conceived the evening, weaves more than 30 elegantly stripped-back songs together in 90 minutes... Directed by Steven Hoggett, the cast duck and slide, creating an inventive friendship skedaddle. Bacharach's lovelorn numbers steal over you like a tequila sunset." The Sunday Times
Close to You in London at the Criterion Theatre previewed from 3 October 2015, opened on 15 October 2015 and closed on 14 February 2016.