By Eric Milkereit, Local lifestyle & entertainment blogger
They've done it again. As if there was ever a doubt. With that, many of you will understand that I am, of course, referring to the Cabaret. Last night, there was another incredible performance at Indiana Landmarks and the delightfully lovely Cook Theater.
The performer was a young chap named Kyle Riabko. Don’t worry. He’s probably not a household name to many people but he should be. One to watch. One to remember. One to know. He performed on Broadway in Spring Awakening a number of years ago. He’s spent the last 6 or so years working on this current show that has performed to raves in New York and an extended period of time in London. It was borne out of a demo session with Burt Bacharach. Then Kyle spent several months working on material eventually showing it to Burt. Who’s reaction was “Kyle, it’s good.” Pretty inspiring. When someone who’s won six Grammys and three Oscars tells you your idea and creative work is “good” you probably get pretty jazzed.
Who doesn’t want to spend 90 minutes with the music of Burt Bacharach? No one. That’s who. That’s the gist of the show but not really. Kyle doesn’t just sing Burt Bacharach songs. They’re all modernized and smushed together in fun ways. Burt’s catalog is immense and goes back to the 1950s. We knew nearly all of the songs. Several of which are Dionne Warwick hits. Burt and Dionne had a long and prosperous professional relationship. This show (Bacharach Reimagined) has blues, pop, jazz, R&B elements. It’s just Kyle and three guitars. That he plays. Really, really well. He’s an incredible musician. And to stand onstage with nothing but yourself and a guitar takes such courage and confidence. At that point, you’re incredibly vulnerable. There’s no one to blame if something goes wrong or if the audience isn’t sucked in. In most situations at the Cabaret, there’s a pianist so at least the performer can joke around with that person. But not in this show. I commend those people who are able to be so engaging all by themselves. Just your voice is enough.
It was fun to hear so many of these songs in one setting. “Close To You” started the show and it really set the tone for the remainder of the evening. Truly inspired arrangements that allowed you to sing along but reworked in super creative ways.
“I Say a Little Prayer” is such a great song and makes me think of My Best Friend’s Wedding, as I’m sure it does for many people. But in this setting it was super bluesy and raw.
I actually didn’t know that Burt Bacharach wrote “Always Something There to Remind Me”. I mean, c’mon. That’s an 80s classic. I felt like I was in 7th grade at a dance in the gym. But without the awkward moments with the boys on one side and the girls on the other. Plus the music at the Jr. High dances was never this good. I realize that it was a remake in the 80s but that doesn’t matter.
“Arthur’s Theme” is another classic. How can you not love that song? Christopher Cross is the epitome of yacht rock but Kyle really made the song current. That’s the thing. If the material is good to start out with, it doesn’t matter how it’s performed. These are timeless songs that hold up decade after decade.
“Walk on By”, “Don’t Make Me Over” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” were the Dionne Warwick portions of the evening. Burt once told Dionne that he would give her a first look at everything he wrote. One time he didn’t and she ran him through the ringer which then inspired “Don’t Make Me Over”.
“A House is Not a Home” is a classic Luther Vandross ballad. Kyle really told a story with that song. Running through the ups and down of a relationships and then ending with a whisper that “you’re still in love with me.” I got a little tear in the corner of my eye.
He had me from the beginning but he really had me there. He allowed the audience to sing along on “What the World Needs Now” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”. Who doesn’t love a sing along? There was one song from Promises, Promises. The only Broadway show Burt wrote. Apparently it was very stressful and he ended up in the hospital shortly before the show opened then was forced to write a ditty for the second act while still in the hospital because the producer of the show wanted something “hummable” in the second act.
This show was basically a master class and a history lesson. Learning through entertainment is a beautiful thing. And last night was really pretty beautiful and amazing.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Come to the Cabaret. Get there. Don’t walk. Run. To the phone or your computer. Settle into a comfortable table with a drink or two and prepare to enjoy a really amazing evening. I’m begging you.
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"Awesome venue! I tell everyone I know about The Cabaret and encourage them to see a show."Cabaret Guest