Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the legendary pop songwriting team that rose to the top of the music business with such '60s hits as "What the World Needs Now," "Alfie," "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" and others, may be redeveloping their revue entitled What the World Needs Now.
Speculation on the eagerly anticipated show began anew on June 19, when the Roundabout staged a routine "donors' reading" of the work. The last word on the show from the Roundabout came in 1998 when the company officially postponed plans to produce What the World Needs Now on Broadway that summer. Side Man took the musical's slot on the Roundabout's roster and subsequently transferred to another Broadway house.
Instead of basing What the World Needs Now on a strong underlying story, Bacharach and David may now be considering more of a straight revue format, along the lines of the highly successful Smokey Joe's Cafe which was based on the works of another legendary collaborative team, rock 'n' roll's Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
Broadway represents an alternate forum for successful songwriters, including Leiber and Stoller, Bacharach and David, Frank Wildhorn, Don Schlitz, Elton John and others who have realized significant pop music success but now seek to enhance their careers and increase their creative influence though major theatrical projects.
Bacharach and David are scheduled to appear in London next week at the Royal Albert Hall where they will be honored by the Nordoff Robbins Foundation for music therapy. Meanwhile, Playbill On-Line has learned that Bacharach is recuperating from an injury to his arm and David is expected to be released from the hospital as early as today after being treated for an ulcer. Baring further unexpected developments, both are still scheduled to attend the London tribute as planned. As reported earlier, the Bacharach-David revue was originally billed as "a contemporary musical fable." That musical featured the hit songs of Bacharach and David and had opened Apr. 2, 1998 at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre. The show ran through May 10 and the idea was to bring it to Broadway at the end of that year.
Gillian Lynne directed and choreographed the show, which featured a book by Kenny Solms; it was based on an idea by Solms and Lynne. Lynne choreographed Cats and Phantom Of The Opera.
On Apr. 14, 1998, mixed reviews of the Old Globe show prompted Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes to officially postponed the Broadway transfer to "a later date."
At the time, Haimes said, "WTWNN is a wonderful idea, and Gillian [Lynne], Kenny [Soames] and the designers have done remarkable work... I do not feel, however, that the show is ready for Broadway, and we need to spend more time in development before opening in New York."
Appearing in Bacharach and David's World at the Old Globe were Roxane Barlow, John Bolton, Brendan Byrnes, Lindsay Chambers, Misty Cotton, Sutton Foster, Jack Donohue, Christianne Farr-Wersinger, Pamela Gold, Amy Heggins, Jenny Hill, Alicia Irving, Joanne Manning, Adam Matalon, Rod McCune, Paula Newsome, Monica Pege, Jonathan Sharp, Mark Anthony Taylor, Lewis Cleale and Courtney Young. Designing that show were Bob Crowley (set), Greg Barnes (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lighting), Jeff Ladman (sound) and Harold Wheeler (orchestrations). Alex Rybeck served as musical director.
The 1998 version of WTWNN follows the character "Alfie" and his friends searching for modern romance. As the Old Globe press release put it, "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy struggles to get girl back."
As of the April 2, 1998, opening night What the World Needs Now included the following Bacharach-David numbers:
"What The World Needs Now"
"Always Something There to Remind Me"
"This Guy's in Love With You"
"Knowing When to Leave"
"I'll Never Fall in Love Again"
"Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head"
"She Likes Basketball"
"Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head"
"Walk on By"
"The World Is a Circle"
"You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)"
"Are You There? (With Another Girl)"
"In The Land of Make Believe"
"To Wait for Love"
"Close to You"
"The Look of Love"
"You'll Think of Someone"
"I Say a Little Prayer"
"I Just Have to Breathe"
"The Balance of Nature"
"Don't Make Me Over"
"Walk on By"
"Trains and Boats and Planes"
"Do You Know the Way to San Jose"
"Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa"
"Message to Michael"
"I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself"
"My Little Red Book"
"Wives and Lovers"
"Any Ole Time of the Day"
"Make It Easy On Yourself"
"A House Is Not a Home"
"What's New Pussycat?/Wishin' and Hopin'"
"A House Is Not a Home (Reprise)"
"One Less Bell to Answer"
"Blue on Blue"
"Here Where There Is Love"
"Anyone Who Had a Heart"
"What the World Needs Now" (Reprise)
-- By Murdoch McBride
and David Lefkowitz