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Reviews

The Look of Love

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Presented by Roundabout Theatre Company, casting by Jim Carnahan, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47 St., NYC, May 4-June 29.

"The Look of Love" opens with Capathia Jenkins standing alone center stage, where she delivers a spring-water-cool version of the title song. It's a smart artistic choice on the part of the four "co-conceivers" of the show: David Thompson, director Scott Ellis, conductor-arranger David Loud, and choreographer Ann Reinking.

Jenkins knows the Bacharach sound. A crowd pleaser if there ever was one, she figures in some of the best moments of the revue. She provides go-to-hell attitude on "Make It Easy on Yourself," and also participates (with Jonathan Dokuchitz and Liz Callaway) in a medley of lost love that stirringly blends "Walk on By," "A House Is Not a Home," and "One Less Bell to Answer." This quodlibet closes Act I: another smart choice.

Those who love the infused-pastel songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David should be in heaven here. (Grouches who find the duo's music too frothy will "walk on by" the Brooks Atkinson for something grungier anyway, right?) "The Look of Love" features most of the duo's biggest successes (though not all of them—where is "Wanting Things"?) in versions that are mostly faithful, though not slavishly so, to the spirit of the originals. Sometimes the creators do go a little far out—as in Reinking's militantly vulgar take on "What's New, Pussycat?" or the scatty "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" But not often.

Janine LaManna turns Ann-Margret-ish on "Wishin' and Hopin' " (backed by Shannon Lewis and Rachelle Rak). Kevin Ceballo shares heart pangs in a Spanish-language "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." And pit singers Farah Alvin and Nikki Renée Daniels pop their heads up like pert prairie dogs during the "Casino Royale" entr'acte.

Martin Pakledinaz's costumes are bright and mod. And the chain-fencing-and-neon effects created by set designer Derek McLane and lighting designer Howell Binkley will inspire more than a few after-theatre debates.

For more reviews, see the Back Stage website at www.backstage.com.

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