Joan Marcus
Melissa Rose Bernardo
December 09, 2013 AT 05:00 AM EST

What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined

type
Stage
Current Status
In Season
run date
12/05/13
performer
Kyle Riabko
director
Steven Hoggett
author
Burt Bacharach, Hal David

We gave it a B

The most romantic thing in the world used to be a guy serenading you while he played the guitar. (Or maybe holding up a boom box while Peter Gabriel serenades you.) But director Steven Hoggett raises the bar in What?s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined at Off Broadway?s New York Theatre Workshop: Kyle Riabko sings ”Making Love” to Laura Dreyfuss as they?re pressed together slow-dancing and plays the guitar that?s hanging on her back. It?s completely swoon-worthy, and even the most hard-hearted viewer — the one who?s sworn ”I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” — will want to cut in and share a dance with the sweet-voiced Riabko.

The twentysomething Riabko is the wonderfully appealing star/cocreator/musical director of What?s It All About, a creatively cluttered revue roughly three dozen Burt Bacharach gems ”reimagined” for the Spring Awakening generation. Translation: Seven fresh-faced, musically ambidextrous actors play their own instruments, perform tight minimalist choreography by Hoggett (Once, Black Watch), and loll about on couches between songs. (Oh yes, the thrift-store-chic couches! They provide on-stage seating for a small group of audience members as well.)

All of the Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer?s best-known hits are present and accounted for. A ukulele-led ”Close to You” is particularly charming, though a mid-show psychedelic interlude is a major downer. What?s that all about?

One warning: Don?t dash out after the curtain call. There is an encore, and it?s super-groovy. B

(Tickets: TicketCentral.com or 212-279-4200)

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