LifestyleNova Payton's Cabaret: Burt Bacharach's Timeless Hits

Nova Payton’s Cabaret: Burt Bacharach’s Timeless Hits

Prolific composer, producer and pianist Burt Bacharach was known for memorable songs — in collaboration with lyricist Hal David — that will live on forever. Dionne Warwick became the songwriters’ muse early in her career with hits like “Walk on By,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Don’t Make Me Over” and so many other hits.

“That’s What Friends Are For: Nova Y. Payton Sings Burt Bacharach” is at Signature Theatre in Shirlington, Virginia, until Feb. 4. (Courtesy of Signature Theatre)
Vocalist and actress Nova Payton beautifully interprets Bacharach’s music in Signature Theatre’s fourth cabaret of the 2023-2034 season, “That’s What Friends Are For: Nova Y. Payton Sings Burt Bacharach.” While the show is in Shirlington, Virginia, the cabaret, arranged in a club-like setting, takes audiences far beyond the DMV, on a satisfying stroll down Bacharach memory lane.

The cabaret is filled with 72 minutes of hit singles, as well as film and stage scores, from Bachrach’s vast catalog. 

Payton, who has a spectacular, crystal clear soprano voice, sang hits such as “Promises, Promises,” “Alfie,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “I Say a Little Prayer” (the Aretha Franklin version). She was accompanied by a tight four-piece band that included DeAnte Haggerty-Willis on guitar, Michael Bowie on electric and acoustic bass, Carroll V. “CV” Dashiell on drums, and Daryl L.A. Hunt, pianist and music director. 

The talented songstress and band performed a jazzy reimagined version of “Walk on By” that was worthy of being released as a single. 

As band director, Hunt spoke about the process that produced what audiences hear during the cabaret.

“We kind of jumped on that. I got inspired during our rehearsal one evening and started writing out all of the changes,” said Hunt, a D.C. native and alumnus of Howard University. “I take some of the guys’ ideas and start to see it through. I brought the arrangement to everyone. They were like, ‘Oh, we love where it is.’”

The band opened with a medley of Bacharach’s songs from some of the films he scored that included “Arthur’s Theme (Best You Can Do),” originally recorded by Christopher Cross and “Theme from Casino Royale,” which was a funny takeoff of James Bond.

Bacharach also co-wrote several top-charting hits with his third wife Carol Bayer Sager. Payton sang “On My Own,” originally recorded by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald, and the critically acclaimed “That’s What Friends Are For,” which featured Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder. The song has brought in millions in support of AIDS-related relief efforts. 

During the cabaret, Payton acknowledged her priest, Father John Mudd, who was in the audience. 

In an interview following the show, he spoke about how Payton and her mother were in the gospel choir at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in the District. Mudd has seen Payton in numerous performances, from the “The Color Purple” musical at Signature to “Grace the Musical” at Ford’s Theatre. His pride overflowed when talking about Payton’s talent.

“I had tears in my eyes from beginning to end,” Mudd said. “Seeing her in plays is totally different. This was so personal, and you feel so close to her.”

“That’s What Friends Are For: Nova Y. Payton Sings Burt Bacharach,” runs until Feb. 4. Visit sigtheatre.org for tickets and more information.

Source: Washington Informer

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