'Back to Bacharach and David' to Have Run at Music Box April 15 - May 17
The Off-Broadway hit "Back to Bacharach and David" will have a short 23 performance engagement at The Music Box @ Fonda April 15 to May 17 (opening April 19). "Back to Bacharach and David" is a night of amazing voices, comedy, and a tribute to the brilliant songs that Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote from 1960 to 1970.
Kathy Najimy, who directs and conceived the show with musical arranger Steve Gunderson said, "These songs defined 'cool' then and define 'cool' now. Every generation since this music was created, has found relevance in it, been drawn to it, and recreated it. This show is a blast to work on -- sexy, moving and funny - with brilliant arrangements."
"We approach the Bacharach-David catalogue with tons of humor and awe, updated with a modern twist -- with four of the most kick ass voices around - and we are thrilled to have the encouragement of Mr. Bacharach and Mr. David themselves for our new production."
Burt Bacharach said, "I saw this show in San Diego a couple of years ago and was quite impressed with the presentation and the musicality. I have always been very particular about how my music is presented on stage and have had some disappointments in the past. Steve Gunderson's musicality and Kathy Najimy's direction makes this a very exciting prospect for me."
The show was originally created for a New York run in 1993. This production marks its Los Angeles debut.
Tony winning producer Joan Stein said, "'Back to Bacharach and David' will open in Los Angeles, with a new look and new all-star cast --- enhanced by the party, rock-concert, festive food and drink night club atmosphere the Music Box provides."
Bacharach and David had more than thirty top 40 US singles including "Don't Make Me Over," "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "Walk On By," "Message to Michael," "Trains and Boats and Planes," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Alfie," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," "What's New Pussycat," "Wives and Lovers," "Always Something there to Remind Me," "Promises, Promises," and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," - all of which are heard in "Back to Bacharach and David."
Of the original production Stephen Holden wrote in The New York Times," "It is too good a show not to have many other lives. Three decades ago, Burt Bacharach and Hal David began creating a series of hits for Dionne Warwick that fused the worlds of Cole Porter and Motown in songs so supercharged they threatened to jump out of their skins. And in 'Back to Bacharach and David,' Steve Gunderson, a gifted arranger, has stitched about thirty of these songs into a spirited musical tribute ... directed by long time friend Kathy Najimy, it regards 1960's pop with playful eyes ... what lifts it, is the show's nearly perfect balance between tribute and comedy."
In 1992 Newsday said, "Back to Bacharach and David" is "A pinball game that whizzes, rings and lights up with high spirits from beginning to breathless end." The New York Native said, "Under the innovative direction of the multi-talented Kathy Najimy, this celebration of the team of Bacharach and David, while at times wildly irreverent, is so filled with high points that, this new musical revue may prove to be the most outstanding offering this year - on or off Broadway. This is one glorious pastiche, deliciously packaged. It deserves to run forever - it's that good."
Gunderson said, "After Burt saw the show, I didn't know what he would make of it. The original recordings are masterpieces of arrangements. But he just took me aside and became our instant champion. The next thing I knew, we were chatting about those 'crazy chords' I used in 'Walk On By.'"
"Soon after, Kathy and I then found ourselves in a meeting with Burt and his agent. Burt put in a call to Hal David, who had been a supportive force behind the original New York production. And then both Bacharach and David were behind this new production.
The three original creators of "Back to Bacharach and David" - co-conceiver-arranger Steve Gunderson, co-conceiver-director Kathy Najimy, and choreographer Javier Velasco - are reuniting to give the production a fresh vision for 2009. For this new version, Najimy, Gunderson and Velasco give a new dose of comedy and a new life to their work.
The designers include Obie award winning set designer Myung Hee Cho, Tony award winning Broadway costumer Gregg Barnes, Ovation winning sound designer Martin Carrillo and Theatre and rock concert lighting guru-- Anne Militello
Calendar listing: "Back to Bacharach and David"
Dates: April 15 to May 17; Opening Night April 19
Theatre: The Music Box @ Fonda, 6126 Hollywood Blvd.
Tickets: Tickets through www.etix.com
Previews: Wed 4/15 at 8 pm; Thur 4/16 at 8 pm; Fri 4/17 at 8 pm; Sat 4/18 at 8 pm
Opening: Sunday, April 19
o Week ending 4/26 -- Fri 4/24 at 8 pm; Sat 4/25 at 5 pm and 9 pm
o Week ending 5/3 -- Wed 4/29 at 8 pm; Thur 4/30 at 8 pm; Fri 5/1 at 8 pm;
o Sat 5/2 at 5 pm and 9 pm; Sun 5/3 at 3 pm
o Week ending 5/10 -- Thur 5/720at 8 pm; Fri 5/8 at 8 pm; Sun 5/10 at 3 pm
o Week ending 5/17 -- Wed 5/13 at 8 pm; Thur 5/14 at 8 pm; Fri 5/15 at 8 pm;
o Sat 5/16 at 5 pm and 9 pm; Sun 5/17 at 3 pm
Background about "Back to Bacharach and David"
When Steve Gunderson, who co-wrote arranged and orchestrated the off-Broadway hit "Suds -- The Rocking 60s Musical Soap Opera," was young, he heard Dionne Warwick's classic recording of "Walk on By" on the radio. "I turned to my parents and said I have to have this record ... later one of my first Academy Award memories was rooting for 'The Look of Love' from 'Casino Royale' to win Best Song, and being depressed for days when 'Talk to the Animals' from 'Doctor Doolittle' won. Kathy and I literally grew up together with this music."
This is how one of composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David's major proponents became entranced by one of the great catalogs of American popular music. But unlike those of a slightly older generation who heard these songs on records, the already musically proficient Gunderson learned these songs from the sheet music.
"I got a Bacharach and David songbook, and one of the things that fascinated me was the unusual time signatures. Songs like 'I Say A Little Prayer' are etched in our minds but can be a nightmare for a drummer once they start to break down that chorus. And Hal David's lyrics are so utterly romantic. I've always focused on the song 'Alfie'. 'Without true love, you just exist' -- you can't turn away from that lyric."
In 1962 Bacharach and David began working with a demo singer - Marie Dionne Warrick. Her voice caught the ear of Scepter Records owner Florence Greenberg, who signed her. With the change of a consonant, Warwick became a star. Warwick had wanted her first single to be "Make It Easy On Yourself." She had recorded the demo of it - but it was promised to Jerry Butler - and Dionne shouted "Don't make me over!" - and by the time she cooled down, Bacharach and David had written her first single - "Don't Make Me Over."
They made more than thirty top 40 US singles including "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "Walk On By," "Message to Michael," "Trains and Boats and Planes," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Always Something there to Remind Me," "Promises, Promises," and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," - all of which are heard in "Back to Bacharach and David."
Bacharach said, "When I was doing songs with Dionne, I was thinking in terms of miniature, three and a half minute movies, with peak moments -- and not one intensity level the whole way through. You can tell a story and be able to be explosive one minute, then get quiet as a kind of satisfying resolution."
Director Najimy said, "Because of the narratives and characters that are built into these songs, Steve and I had a billion ideas to work with when we first started putting together this show - and these ideas were mostly from performing them for ourselves at a piano together since we were fourteen! We love infusing 'tongue-in-cheek' with tribute."
Najimy co-created the Obie Award winning off Broadway hit "The Kathy and Mo Show:
Parallel Lives," which ran over 15 years and became two HBO specials. In New York she received rave reviews for her award winning Broadway debut in "Dirty Blonde" and has appeared in the first and several casts of V-day - -"The Vagina Monologues," including Madison Square Garden and Broadway.
Najimy has directed several one-woman shows in Los Angeles and New York including "Little American Whore," "I Can Put My Fist In My Mouth," and Kathleen Wilhoite's "Stop Yellin.'" For 13 seasons she's provided the voice of Peggy Hill on Fox TV's "King of the Hill" (Annie Award) and for three seasons she performed opposite Kirstie Alley on NBC's "Veronica's Closet." She has appeared in over twenty films including "Sister Acts" 1 and 2, Pixar's Oscar winning "Wall-e," "Hocus Pocus," "Rat Race," "The Fisher King," and "Soapdish". She was seen as a regular cast member last season on "NUMB3RS." Ms Najimy was honored to be named MS Magazine Woman of the Year 2006.
Producer Joan Stein said, "This music has been featured on four separate episodes of 'American Idol' and when the Idol finalists cut a charity single of 'What the World Needs Now is Love' it was #4 on the Billboard Chart. Mike Myers featured their music in all three of his Austin Powers films - and Ronald Isley, Twista, Kanye West, Jamie Foxx, White Stripes, Cyndi Lauper, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Costello, REM, Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five and Steve Tyrell have all recently covered these songs."
It is not surprising that young musicians since then are attracted to the Bacharach-David catalog -- a catalog that charts its startling growth alongside those of Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, BrIan Wilson, and The Supremes song writers Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr.
Since these songs were introduced, they are among the most recorded in pop music history - from the artists of the time to the present - including Elvis Presley, Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, ManfrEd Mann, Herb Alpert, The Supremes, Patti LaBelle, Carly Simon, Barbara Streisand, Luther Vandross and Olivia Newton John.
Choreographer Javier Velasco was also the original choreographer of "Suds," and worked with Luis Valdez on "Bandido," "Corridos," and the 20th Anniversary production of "Zoot Suit." As Artistic Director of San Diego Ballet, he has choreographed more than 60 ballets for the company since its inception including its signature piece "Mambomania."
Myung Hee Cho designed the sets; she designed "Yellow Face" at the Taper, the national tours of "Wit" and "Lackawanna Blues," and for productions at McCarter Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre, Classic Stage Company, A.C.T./SF, Intiman Theatre, The Public Theater, Berkeley Repertory, Union Square Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and Second Stage/NY.
Costume Designer For Broadway, Gregg Barnes designed "Minsky's" at the Ahmanson Theatre, "Legally Blonde" (2007 Tony nomination), "The Drowsy Chaperone" (2006 Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Award, Olivier nomination), "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "Flower Drum Song" (Tony nomination), and "Side Show." He also designed costumes for "Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular" (Principal Designer 1994-2005), New York City Opera, "Pageant" (The Blue Angel and London's West End - Olivier nomination), and "The Kathy and Mo Show."
Lighting designer Anne Militello designed "Cuba and the Teddy Bear" on Broadway, Industrial Symphony No. 1 for David Lynch (Obie Award), and works by Sam Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, Mabou Mines and Richard Foreman. For the concert stage, she designed lighting for tours of Tom Waits, Lou Reed, and Pearl Jam, and new tours for Leonard Cohen and Robert Plant. She spent four years as a lighting designer for Walt Disney Imagineering.
Sound designer Martin Carrillo worked in Philadelphia with Sarah Caldwell and Guggenheim recipient Robert Smythe. With Francois Bergeron, Martin has contributed to Universal Port Aventura's Templo Del Fuego, Kansas City's Science City Museum, and Disney's Tokyo DisneySeas. Martín served as Audio Designer for the construction of two theaters at Hong Kong Disneyland on Lantau Island, and the shows that play there. In Los Angeles he designed "Romeo and Juliet: Antebellum New Orleans" (Ovation Award), "Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings" and for Pasadena Playhouse productions.