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What’s It All About?

What's It All About at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Photo: Nobby Clark What's It All About at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Photo: Nobby Clark
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The West End is already saturated with jukebox musicals constructed out of back pop catalogues from Michael Jackson and the Beatles with Sinatra to follow imminently. So is what the world needs now to say a little prayer, wishin’ and hopin’ and taking trains and boats and planes, to see another that proves that there’s always something there to remind us, any day now, of a composer who makes it easy on yourself and remind us that’s what friends are for?

If that lyrical mash-up of song titles sparks a nostalgic note of recognition, the show itself performs a similar (but rather more skilful) mash-up on Burt Bacharach’s catalogue than I’ve just done to provide the most joyous and yet also most melancholic musical journey in town. Here his iconic songs are rebooted, reimagined and reorchestrated to make them sound utterly fresh again.

Not that they’ve ever really dated, but they’ve been the soundtrack to the lives of anyone born before 1970 that we instinctively absorb them. But a whole new generation will now be exposed to this repertoire by singer-guitarist Kyle Riabko who – himself just 27 – has given a spellbindingly new yet utterly faithful spin to them in this show.

They are made to pulse with feeling and movement, and director Steven Hoggett makes the cast of seven actor-singer-musicians, stunningly led by Riabko himself, swing, sway and sashay as they perform them. Yet it always feels organic to the music rather than imposed upon it.

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Verdict
A thrilling musical ride that's more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane but makes this classic pop catalogue come alive for today
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