Burt Bacharach, Steven Sater’s album attracts Broadway stars

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NEW YORK (AP) – One of musical theater’s most exciting new writing partnerships started with a break-up song.

Composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Steven Sater bonded to create “Ready to Be Done With You,” cementing a collaboration that has now produced a 13-track concept album sung by some of Broadway’s best.

“It was just an exciting adventure for me and the pleasure of a lifetime working with Burt,” said Sater, the Tony, Olivier and Grammy winner behind “Spring Awakening,” who linked his story and lyrics to the Duncan’s music. Sheikh.

The yet-to-stage musical is called “Some Lovers” and Broadway Records released their song art just in time for the collection to be eligible for this year’s Grammy for Best Drama Album. musical.

The star-studded list of singers includes Jennifer Holliday, Kristin Chenoweth, Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele, Christy Altomare, Ramin Karimloo, Auli’i Cravalho, Derek Klena, Betsy Wolfe, Tracie Thoms, Katrina Lenk, Santino Fontana, Conrad Ricamora, Ashley Park, Ethan Slater and Lilli Cooper.

“As a fan of all good songwriting and great Broadway, it’s just perfect,” says Colton Ryan, who sings the opening song “Molly” with his co-star “Alice By Heart,” Molly Gordon. “I mean, I’m a little biased, but I’m also pretty objective.”

“Some Lovers” is designed to have a cast of four singers, who together represent a couple – Ben and Molly – in their upbeat youth and also in their jaded and disgruntled middle age. It enters and leaves memory and time.

“The show somehow takes place in the memory and imagination of the elderly. But the young parts of themselves are still in love with each other and try to convince them to get back together with each other, ”says Sater.

He says the story was inspired by “The Gift of the Magi”, the short story of O. Henry on a poor young couple. She sells her hair to buy a watch chain, and he sells her watch in order to buy her a set of combs for Christmas.

“What if we take what happened to these people 15 years later, after they made these huge sacrifices?” Sater asks. “What are they feeling? And that’s how we started working on the show. It was almost like making a jukebox musical out of your own songs.

The path taken by “Some Lovers” took years, led to dead ends and yet proved to be more powerful than the pandemic. Sater first connected with Bacharach years ago when he was invited to the composer’s house of timeless songs such as “What the world needs now is love”, “The raindrops keep falling on my head” and “I say a little prayer for you.”

“At the end of that long meeting, where I stayed a little too long, he said, ‘Well, you look like you’ve got your partner for the theater. But if you ever have words, maybe you could give them to me. And I said, ‘I brought one.’

This song was “Ready to Be Done With You” and Bacharach read the lyrics as he stepped out of Sater. Reading it, he collapsed against a wall, turned around and brought Sater back to read the entire lyrics aloud as he sat down. “He said, ‘Oh, Stevie, this is so real, man. You know, who hasn’t felt that? ‘ “

Two months later, Bacharach called Sater and said, “I have a little something for the lyrics you wrote. Do you want to hear it? »Recalls Sater. “Somehow he had turned it into a Bacharach song, and it was just the most beautiful thing.” A partnership was born.

The proto-musical debuted at the Old Globe in San Diego in 2011, but its creators were not happy. “We weren’t ready,” Sater says. In 2016, the songs were performed in concert at Lincoln Center and a revised musical was staged at a festival in London in 2017 and at the Adirondack Theater Festival in 2018.

Right before the pandemic hit, Sater and Bacharach came up with a clever twist: they had singers who previously played lovers on Broadway to record their songs as a duet.

This meant Ryan would sing along with his co-star “Alice by Heart” Gordon, Groff and Michele reunited from “Spring Awakening”, Slater and Cooper from “SpongeBob SquarePants” and Lenk and Ari’el Stachel from “The Band’s Visit”.

“There is something so heartbreaking and there is so much desire in this album. It’s because I think there’s so much chemistry inside already, ”Ryan said.

Ryan recorded his part at his mother’s house in Kentucky. He used a room a little bigger than a closet and soundproofed by putting styrofoam on the walls. He sang over a stripped down piece and the brass and strings were added later. Gordon sang his part months later from Los Angeles and their voices united.

“I was actually delighted to hear the finished product. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it sounded as good as it was, ”says Ryan. “We have all sent our little pieces far from our corners of the world. And then it became this lush thing.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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