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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Actors’ Summit show featuring music of Bacharach, David

6/19/2014 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

Performing in Actors’ Summit Theater’s “Back to Bacharach and David” are, from left, J.T. Buck, Brandon Isner, Chanda Porter and Debra Rose.
Photo courtesy of Actors’ Summit Theater
DOWNTOWN AKRON — From the 1960s to the end of the century, you could expect to hear on radio and TV music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David. In addition, they wrote for the movies and Broadway. Their successful partnership made music history and provided the background for those growing up during the 1960-1970 era. 

Dionne Warwick seemed to be the voice for Bacharach and David. Between 1962 and 1968, Warwick took 15 of the duo’s songs into the Top 40. They also wrote for The Carpenters, Dusty Springfield, Bobbie Gentry, Jackie DeShannon, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B.J. Thomas and others.

Now, Actors’ Summit Theater has mounted a musical revue of Bacharach and David works. For some, this will be a chance to hear the scrapbook of your life played out on the stage. Some will know the songs but not know they were written by Bacharach and David.

“Back to Bacharach and David,” which is on stage through July 20, features 29 of the duo’s most memorable songs. The show was created by Steve Gunderson and Kathy Najimy.

MaryJo Alexander directed and choreographed the show. Alexander helped her cast make each song a mini-drama, a story with a beginning, middle and end. The choreography recreates the dance steps we saw on TV, the stage and discos during the peak of the Bacharach and David productive period. 

The show plays well because of an outstanding cast that includes Brandon Isner, Chanda Porter, Debra Rose and Lisa Marie Schuler. In some of the numbers, one song weaves through the lyrics or melody of another song. For example, consider the arrangement of “A House Is Not a Home” and “One Less Bell to Answer.” Yet, the cast didn’t miss a beat. They harmonized perfectly and blended their voices beautifully. The singers were supported by two musicians: J.T. Buck (keyboard) and Scott Sexton (percussion).

The set reflects the style of Piet Mondrian, the Dutch artist whose work was popular during the 1960s and ’70s. Mondrian was known for bold black lines running vertically and horizontally with the spaces between the lines painted in bright colors. In the 1960s, Mondrian’s style was adapted by fashion designers. Two of the dresses worn on the stage reflect the Mondrian design.

“Back to Bacharach and David” runs about 75 minutes and is an excellent salute to the music of Bacharach and David. The show is performed in Greystone Hall, 103 S. High St. For ticket information, call 330-374-7568.

 

David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.

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