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Back to Bacharach and David

This musical revue of the songwriters' hits, featuring a quartet of singers including Diana De Garmo, could use more cohesion and character. logo
Tressa Thomas, Tom Lowe, Diana DeGarmo
and Susan Mosher (seated) in
Back to Bacharach & David
(© Robert Millard)
Back to Bacharach and David, the revue of Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs at the The Music Box @ Fonda, feels less like a theatrical performance than an episode of American Idol -- and that's due only partially to the fact that it features two former Idol contestants. The real reason is that no cohesion is given by co-directors Kathy Najimy and Steve Gunderson, and there's even less sense of character than found in jukebox musicals like Smokey Joe's Cafe and Swing!, making the evening ultimately feel far too repetitive.

Admittedly, some of the duo's songs are presented in interesting ways, such as "Close To You" as a harmony vocal number in a method that Manhattan Transfer would use, while. "Are You There With Another Girl" is presented as a three-act play about a woman who suspects her boyfriend of three-timing her,

A medley that includes "Windows of the World" and "What The World Needs Now" uses footage of various rights groups and such activists as Martin Luther King Jr., Gloria Steinem, and Bobby Kennedy, along with the composer himself. His songs have touched many and may be empowering, but to canonize him with those leaders just because he wrote a few songs about peace seems incongruous.

The four singers -- Diana De Garmo, Tom Lowe, Susan Mosher, and Tressa Thomas -- all have nice instruments, and the ladies are compelling. De Garmo does have a few choice moments, particularly in "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," crawling around in a primal frustration while swinging from a pole in a fury and banging the cymbals with her foot. Thomas has a big gospel voice that commands the stage. Mosher gets most of the character songs, and brings particular verve to "I'll Never Fall In Love Again."

Conversely, Lowe doesn't commit to the stories the songs tell. He's a vessel without much spark, giving the impression that he fell off a boy band tour bus and stumbled upon the stage. Luckily, the band, led by Ben Toth, sounds fierce, jazzy and yet contemporary.

Gregg Barnes dresses the foursome in dramatic gear, and Myung Hee Cho time-warps the audience to the 1960s with psychedelic drop-downs in tie-dye colors. But this road back to Bacharach and David is still a little too bumpy.

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