Theater Review by Howard Steven Frydman
Play: BURT & ME
Theater: Ivoryton Playhouse
Music & Lyri Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Book by: Larry McKenna
Director: Brian Feehan
It’s Burt at the Ivoryton. I don’t know my B, but do you? The era, the 1970’s each week both Tuesday and Wednesday I would steadfastly watch the ABC Movie of the Week with films especially made for TMOTW with its hauntingly beautiful opening theme music. For years I looked for those familiar strains, who was the composer, where could one hear the full orchestration. I was obsessed with that tune. Years went by, and as so happens, I was doing an event, and turned to a friend and bid her to hear the TMOTW opening now on YouTube- within minutes she gave me the answer that had so eluded me – “hey that’s “Nikki”, by Burt Bacharach” she sang out- “yep that’s Burt the one and only” – and yes she knew her B’s. After that re-education, I now have almost the entire music library of partner Hal David and Mr . B. himself, Burt (careful it’s Burt not Bert). Calling all you Burt-maniacs- you can see and hear the wonders of “The Burt” in the absolutely amazing production- “Burt and Me”, currently playing at the Ivoryton Theater and directed by fan-fave Brian Feehan.
Two facts know I – Firstly, let me give proper props to “Burt and Me”! Why you ask? I give it 5 stars just for answering this Jeopardy question- Does “Burt and Me” – after departing the theater have you snapping your fingers and humming it’s tunes all the way home? The answer- What is – “emphatically indubitably positively“ in other words YES! Major Kudos to the live on stage band including Michael Morris on Piano, Michael Raposo on Woodwinds, Mark Gehret on Bass, and Gus Gustamachio on drums for providing such memorable B & D musical numbers including: “ There’s Always Something There to Remind Me”, “The Look of Love”, “I Say A Little Prayer For You”, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”, “What the World Needs Now” and of course the inspirational “Turkey Lurkey Time” – sorry folks they don’t perform “Nikki” – I hope they take requests though after the show.
Second, here I sit in the second landing, the balcony ya know, of The Ivoryton Playhouse and this second floor is literally rocking. Folks this way and that-away are actually singing along with our on stage players- a few are snapping their fingers in time and one couple do a cute little Pasodoble and return to their seats – now if you can imagine what’s taking place in the rafters can you imagine what’s taking place on stage? Yep- seeing is believing!
The production, some would call it a “Jukebox Musical” – one that features – “put another nickel in- the Nickelodeon” music, familiar tunes from one particular artist featured around a central plot such as: ABBA- “Mamma Mia”, Queen – “We Will Rock You”, Elvis – “All Shook Up”, and of course the Tony Award Winning “Jersey Boys” featuring the songs of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The plot of this musical romantic comedy, “since time immemorial” stays the same – it’s circa 1970’s, boy meets girl, here it’s Joe (Andy Christopher) and Lacy (Lauren Gire), boy loses girl, they surmount obstacles, interact with flaky friends ( Neal Mayer, Josh Powell, Nathan Richardson) and gal-pals ( Adrianne Hick, Katie Luke,) and of course it all ties up in a happy wholesome ending surrounded by their love of those melodic melodies of Burt Bacharach – and guess what? – it all works – it’s lovingly nostalgic – and a joy to behold- as mentioned feel free to take a peek at what’s taking place on the Ivoryton’s mezzanine.
“Burt and Me”, brings together a stunning group of young actors to the stage, their singing, dancing stylings were flawless – you can literally see they are having a delightful fun time on stage and it shows and ultimately translates to a most appreciative audience- and we thank you. Major kudos to our two romantic leads Andy Christopher and Lauren Gire. The coveted “Howard Noticed You Award” is presented to Mr. Josh Powell, who we most recently saw in performance at Seven Angels ( George and Gracie – Part 2) – Mr. Powell we so enjoyed your numerous engaging comedic turns this day and must admit – you stole the show throughout.
As stated, if you know your Burt’s, as I and so many others do – “Make It Easy On Yourself” and take in “Something Big” at the Ivoryton- it’s highly enjoyable!
For Ticket information please contact The Ivoryton Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting their website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at email@example.com.