About Time You Saw: Close to YouBy Gilly Hopper
Don’t call Close To You a tribute act, and forget about labeling lead vocalist, guitarist and arranger, Kyle Riabko an ‘impersonator’ – this is not your routine jukebox musical. Close To You, a new musical exploring Burt Bacharach’s songbook, is a testimony to the composer’s timeless mastery and the malleability of his works in the hands of the multi-talented Kyle Riabko. Penning hits like I Say A Little Prayer, Walk On By, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, Bacharach’s infectious medleys are given a 21st century revamp, infusing full on rock with whisper-hush intimacy.
Now playing at the West End’s Criterion Theatre, Close To You re-interprets Bacharach’s classic songs through a series of mash-ups and re-orchestrated musical numbers performed by a young, multi-talented cast. Cleverly directed by Steven Hoggett, resulting in a dynamic presentation that flows with ease, the show is formatted as a concert rather than a theatre piece in any strict sense. This gig-like atmosphere – with visible amps and overhead lighting – is paired back, barebones, cosiness done right. Breeding an air of familiarity, on stage seating and an intimate set successfully creates an ‘at home’ feel and a certain ‘closeness’ to the subject matter is instantly felt.
Proving their long-term ‘stickability’, Kyle Riabko‘s treatment of over 30 of Bacharach’s classic hits is dynamic. Void of plot, the audience is free to interpret and thread together their own story. Playlets incorporating simple objects – a pair of shoes, teared letters, an exchange of photographs – are thereby open to interpretation. Alternatively you can leave the detective work at the door and simply sit back, relax and enjoy the music.
Performers Stephanie McKeon (Natalie, The Commitments) and Anastacia Mccleskey (Book of Mormon, Priscilla Queen of the Dessert) bring an added jolt of electricity to the stage in their contrasting performances. Offsetting Kyle’s raspier vocal tone, Mccleskey and McKeon offer a freshness to these popular classics, assuring the show resonates with a varied audience.