REVIEW: Close To You, Criterion Theatre ✭✭✭✭✭

Last Updated on 19th June 2017

Close To You at the Criterion Theatre
The cast of Close To You. Photo: Johan Persson.

Close To You
Criterion Theatre
15th October 2015
5 Stars
Book Tickets

I’ve got to say that my first reaction to Close To You at the conclusion of tonight’s performance was simply “WOW!” Followed shortly thereafter by “Isn’t there any more?”

Close To You is an incredible musical journey through the music of one Mr Burt Bacharach, devised by Kyle Riabko and directed by Steven Hoggett. It’s not a musical, but rather a joyous celebration of songs that have formed the soundtrack for many lives since 1957 when he and Hal David first started writing.

Close To You at the Criterion Theatre
Daniel Ballen, Kyle Riabko, Greg Coulson, Stephanie McKeon, Anastacia McCleskey in Close To You. Photo: Johan Persson

Bacharach’s song-writing success is legendary – nine no 1 songs, forty-eight top 10 hits and over 70 top 40 hits. It’s an incredible feat for any songwriter, moreso when you realise that these songs will most likely be sung by generations to come if tonight is anything to go by.

Riabko’s personal take on so many classic songs is breath-taking and awe-inspiring. Some songs are delivered straight, some thematically linked, some presented as mash-ups, but each retains the distinctive stamp of Bacharach. Songs presented include, but are not limited to Alfie, Arthur’s Theme, What’s New Pussycat, I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, Say A Little Prayer, and Do You Know The Way To San Jose? amongst many others. There is something for everyone, as well as a few songs you may hear for the first time.

Close To You at the Criterion Theatre
Kyle Riabko. Photo: Johan Persson

Kyle Riabko has much to be proud of here. His charismatic and vocally charged performance of this material will undoubtedly alert a whole new generation to Bacharach. Not only is he insanely talented, but, he has managed to assemble a group of six singer/musicians ( Daniel Bailen, Greg Coulson, Anastacia McCleskey, Stephanie McKeon, Renato Paris and James Williams) who seem to be having the most wonderful time on stage.

Director Steven Hoggett has taken the staging of this theatrical evening to a whole new level. There’s fluidity to each song presented. If you saw Steven’s production of Once, you will have some idea of the way he can make performers move in ways that sometimes are nothing short of balletic. The stage is constantly moving, it’s a visual and auditory feast.

I found moments in the show to be intensely moving, invoking personal memories that I had all but forgotten.

Trying to highlight individual performances or individual songs is pointless, this is a show to be savoured as whole, not just once but many times.

Close To You sent me out into the street after the show, with tunes swirling around in my head, whistling and feeling fabulous. What more could anyone ask from an evening in the theatre.

Bravo!

PS When is the cast album out?

Close To You Is now playing at the Criterion Theatre. Book Now!

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