Posts Tagged ‘Steven Sater’

I’ve lost count of the number of four-hander chamber musicals / song cycles set in New York (lots!) but this one has music by master songwriter Burt Bacharach. It doesn’t seem to have had many productions since its San Diego premiere six years ago and this short run is its UK premiere.

It works backwards from present day, with former lovers Ben and Molly reflecting on where they went wrong, helped by their younger selves, who act out scenes from their earlier lives and sometimes interact with their older selves. They met in a restaurant where Ben was a pianist / singer and Molly a waitress. They move in together and Molly subsidises Ben’s career, buying him a baby grand piano amongst other things, but the relationship doesn’t go anywhere and they eventually split.

Neither the characterisations nor the story are meaty or interesting enough to sustain a 90-minute musical, I’m afraid. Bacharach’s songs are good, but Sater’s book and lyrics aren’t really good enough. I wasn’t convinced by Ben Richards as older Ben, but I liked the other three performances, especially Aaron Kavanagh as young Ben, who has only just graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, whose singing and acting were both hugely impressive. Jordan Li-Smith leads a nice quartet, but the sound balance between the band and singers could do with improvement.

It felt very much like work-in-progress to me, and on that basis it showed promise. Given a re-write, a lot more could be made of it.

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