Actors’ Summit is serving up some fierce vocalization in their latest musical revue “Back to Bacharach and David”, which was an Off-Broadway revue that featured the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The show was created by Steve Gunderson and Kathy Najimy and directed by Najimy, with musical arrangements and orchestrations by Gunderson. The revue comprises the Bacharach/David songs from 1960-1970. And what a treasure chest of music to listen to and illicit incredible memories. The original revue was a balance of comedic overtones and delicious schmaltz, Summit takes more of a straightforward approach, focusing on marvelous harmonies and an appealing cast that strongly delivers brilliant songs.
The musical virtuosity of Musical Director J. T. Buck and percussionist Scot Sexton are a welcome sight. These two artists handle the score with marvelous ease and create a musical backdrop that fills the stage with inspired musicianship.
Creating that musical magic on stage are Brandon Isner*, Chanda Porter, Debra Rose, and Lisa Marie Schuller*. Director MaryJo Alexander* has assembled an affable and appealing cast. Each player contributing their strength to the group effort, and at the same time, appear cohesive and playful when given the chance. Isner must be having a blast surrounded by three beautiful woman. He adds a beautiful clear tenor voice to the proceedings, which is simply a joy to take in and process. Porter possesses a smoky sexy voice and looks that ignite all her songs. Rose brings the soul and realness to the song fest. With a demeanor that commands attention, she is pure joy. And major props for Schuller, who not only possesses a powerful, clarion voiced instrument, but learned the show in 9 days. Based on the harmonies in this show, that is incredibly impressive. Speaking of the harmonies, Buck has done a tremendous job getting these professionals to Manhattan Transfer level vocaleze. The colorful costumes enhanced each performer, and added to an evening of a retrospective trip down memory lane.
There were some distractions. The movement in the show seemed stiff. The best moments were when the cast just let go and had fun, instead of being tied to movement that seemed uncomfortable. And I could be wrong, but the jacket that Isner wore seemed bigger than him, or at least the sleeves. But then, I am not a slave to fashion.
The biggest selling point of this show is the vocals. Very impressive work on classic music that will send anyone who lived through the 60’s into heaven.
(Triple Task Master) Director, Costume Designer and Prop Designer MaryJo Alexander, Excellent Musical Direction J. T. Buck, Stage Manger Anna Bose called a great show, and Lighting and Sound Design by Kevin Rutan+ (loved the Rubik cube colorful set).
*Members of Actors’ Equity, the professional association of actors and stage managers in the United States.
+Members of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
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$10-$33 Reserved Seating
103 High Street, Sixth Floor
Akron, OH 44308