BWW Interview: Kyle Riabko of CLOSE TO YOU: BACHARACH REIMAGINED at Cabaret 313 is Something Different for Detroit!
Cabaret 313 is presenting multi-talented artist Kyle Riabko for two one-night only performances of his Burt Bacharach themed show, Close to You: Bacharach Reimagined on Saturday, October 28th at the Black Box Theatre at the Detroit Opera House in Detroit. "The main thing is I pack thirty-five songs into about an hour and twenty minutes, and you start to realize just how many hits Burt has written that you know such as 'Close to You,' 'Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,' 'Say a Little Prayer,' and 'And Something There to Remind Me.' The list just goes on and on and on," said Kyle Riabko. "It's really a journey through the music and career of Burt Bacharach, but it will also appeal to the people who grew up, like I did, not listening to him, but to Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and that kind of stuff because I play it from a guitar player's point of view."
Riabko is no stranger to music or the stage. In fact, he has been playing music his whole life. "I'm a musician first and foremost," he said. The Canadian born artist was signed to a record deal at 15 years old that allowed him to make an album and tour his home continent and then the world with many great musicians such as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Jason Mraz, and Maroon 5. "I saw the world through the eyes of a variety of musicians, pop stars, and blues musicians, but at a certain point the music industry started to change and become a more difficult place to live. There was this musical that I heard of called Spring Awakening, but I had never been to a Broadway musical before. I didn't even really know what Broadway was to be perfectly honest, but I went to see it and saw that musicals could be cool, didn't sound like or look like my preconceived notion of what a musical was," he explained. "Around that time, Jon Groff was leaving the show. They were holding auditions and I went in. I ended up getting the part to replace him on Broadway and then to do the national tour. That was a big, new step for me into the weird world of musicals and also acting, which I had done a little bit of, but not much. After that, I starred in Hair on Broadway and did film and television work."
The big highlight for Riabko in the last handful of years was meeting Burt Bacharach and creating Close to You: Bacharach Reimagined with his blessing. "It's incredibly nerve-wracking to take demos of you playing this legend's music over to his house and have him listen to it. The idea was to get his approval," said Riabko. "I would create these arrangements sort of fifteen minutes at a time, come over with sweaty palms and press play on the boom box and have him listen. Thirty seconds into the first demo, he sort of in his very typical, quiet Burt Bacharach way put his head down and said, 'it's good Kyle, it's good.' And that was the beginning of the whole journey to a full-blown theatre piece with seven performers, set, lighting, and all that." The show had critically-acclaimed runs both in the West End and Off-Broadway.
What Riabko has done now is taken his theatre show and turned it into a solo show. "I take you through some of the reimagined arrangements created for the show, but for the solo version I also tell the story of my relationship with Burt and tell some of the stories behind some of the songs that he wrote," said Riabko. "It's a great night of a lot of music and a little bit of storytelling." Just like this crazy story of opening night on the West End of Close to You: Bacharach Reimagined, "Tom Jones showed up and he was sitting next to Burt," he said. "And if you want to do something in your life that is the most terrifying thing you can possibly do, it's sing 'What's New Pussycat' to Tom Jones while he's sitting next to Burt Bacharach. It was a harrowing experience. He gave me the thumbs up afterwards."
Close to You: Bacharach Reimagined is something new and different for night out here in the city. "You will be right up front and center with music. It's just kind of as raw and soulful as you can get with these songs because I've stripped them way down," he said. "You'll hear the music of Bacharach in a way that you've never heard it before and that's a lot fun." Detroit is not often granted the opportunity to see multi-talented artists like Kyle Riabko perform cabarets in our city, so if given the chance, you should go! Come out for something different, but stay for the music, the talent, and the fun.
Close to You: Bacharach Reimagined is Saturday, October 28th at 7pm and 9:30pm at the Black Box Theatre at the Detroit Opera House in Detroit. Tickets are $60 for general seating, $125 for preferred seating, and $25 for attendees 40 and younger. Guests to the 9:30pm performance can enjoy a three-course dinner at the Detroit Athletic Club for an additional $63 per person. For more information or tickets, visit www.cabaret313.org.