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'Back to Bacharach' at The Music Box through May 17

Limited engagement is tribute to the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Posted: April 23, 2009 3:51 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Burt Bacharach

 
The Off-Broadway hit "Back to Bacharach and David" will have a short 23 performance engagement at The Music Box @ Fonda through May 17.

"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."

The show was originally created for a New York run in 1993. This production marks its Los Angeles debut.

In addition to co-creating and serving as musical arranger Gunderson starred in the original Off Broadway production of "Back To Bacharach."

Gunderson, Najimy and "Back to Bacharach" choreographer Javier Velasco grew up together in San Diego.

They joined forces to create a show that featured just Bacharach music.

"I am such Bacharach nerd, he is like my music god," said Gunderson. "I remember when I was young and 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."

Trained as an actor, not a musician Gunderson said he always had an ear for orchestrations.

"I didn't have any formal training. I taught myself. I'm so obsessed with the sound - every rhythm and every beat. It is just something I love to do," he said. "This is my fantasy job, a dream come true, 24 hours a day Bacharach and David."

Bacharach and David had more than 30 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."

The four member cast includes:

Mary Birdsong, a 2007 Theatre World Award-winner for her Broadway debut in "Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me!" and is best known as Deputy Cherisha Kimball on Comedy Central's "Reno 911!"

Diana DeGarmo who shot to fame as a runner-up on "American Idol," and her debut single "Dreams" went to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Singles Chart.

Tom Lowe starred as Marius in "Les Misérables" on London's West End.

Tressa Thomas appeared in Robert Townsend's film "The Five Heartbeats" and later played Ruth Brown in the NBC film "The Little Richard Story."

"We searched for four ultra-superstars for this show," said director Kathy Najimy. "Funny, fantastic, with fabulous voices - and we found them. It is the perfect ‘Back to Bacharach and David' cast - the show they were each meant to star in."

Gunderson said he was terrified at the thought of his idol, Bacharach seeing the show, but relieved when Bacharach said he loved it.
"I saw this show in San Diego a couple of years ago and was quite impressed with the presentation and the musicality," said Bacharach. "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."

"Back to Bacharach and David" through May 17 at The Music Box @ Fonda, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Tickets are available through www.etix.com.

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