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Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined

Published 16 October 2015

What’s it all about?

Alfie.

What’s new pussycat?

Not a lot. This is pretty much the same Bacharach reimagining show audiences at the Menier Chocolate Factory fell in love with this summer, except they’ve added an interval.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

This is just getting silly now, isn’t it?

I just don’t know what to do with myself…

Write a sensible first night response instead of playing with Bacharach song titles.

What should I look out for?

That’s better.

There’s so much to enjoy from Kyle Riabko’s innovative, exciting adaptation of Bacharach’s classics, from a guitar-solo boasting rock-inspired version of Do You Know The Way To San Jose to versions of Don’t Make Me Over and Magic Moments filled with unadulterated heartache, via the purest version of Alfie you’re ever likely to hear.

Show opener Anyone Who Had A Heart fills the Criterion Theatre with extra poignancy following Cilla Black’s death just weeks ago.

Christine Jones and Brett J Banakis’ set, which spilled into the Menier’s auditorium, is more contained at the Criterion, but now features a Babel-like tower of instruments.

Tim Lutkin’s lighting – all backlights, spotlights and more assorted lamps than a genie convention – is as beautiful and atmospheric as it ever was.

In a nutshell?

Why do birds suddenly appear? Because Close To You is such an irresistibly glorious celebration of Bacharach’s stunning songs. Make it easy on yourself and book a ticket.

Who was in the press night crowd?

We were hemmed in by Sir Patrick Stewart, hit maker Pete Waterman, ballerina-turned-Strictly-judge Darcey Bussell and The Voice UK’s Ricky Wilson, but the real star power was in the Dress Circle, where Mr B himself was accompanied by the one and only Tom Jones.

What’s being said on Twitter?

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Will I like it?

To use another Bacharach title, This Guy’s In Love With You, if ‘you’ is Close To You, obviously. Bacharach’s songs are timeless, they seep into your very soul to effortlessly bring a smile to your face or a tear to your eye. Riabko’s arrangements are exciting, surprising and often moving. The funky den set is charming, building the idea of friends mucking about in a garage, and Steven Hoggett’s direction and choreography is full of wit and cheer.

If you’re a purist, you might have issues, and if you need a plot you will be disappointed. But Close To You never pretends to be anything more than it is; a sweet, stonking, gloriously fun, cheekily innovative celebration of a musical icon. I say a little prayer there’s always something there to remind me of it. Sorry. I’ll stop now.

Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined plays at the Criterion Theatre until 10 January. You can book tickets through us here.

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