February 19, 2016

After a hit run last year, “Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical,” that glittery disco ball of a show, has returned to theBrava Theater Center.

 

Sylvester found a musical groove with backup singers Martha Wash and Izora Armstead, who are played by Jacqueline B. Arnold and Anastacia McCleskey. Their contribution to songs like “Can’t Stop Dancing” lift an ordinary disco tune to heights of glory, and they provide backbone as well as backup for the standout medley of “Could It Be Magic” and “A Song for You.”

 

October 16, 2015

Accompanying themselves on all sorts of instruments throughout the show, the cast are ridiculously talented. Riabko leads the company terrifically; his stage presence is strong and he his cleverly placed vocal gymnastics sound so effortless. When Anastacia McCleskey sings for her life time stands still - she is phenomenal.

October 16, 2015

The energetic young cast of seven are fronted by Kyle Riabko (co-conceiver of the show and provider of the lead vocal and considerable guitar skills upon which its sound is built) in dancing the audience through his unique and fresh arrangements of over 30 Bacharach hits. The sheer range of talent on display facilitates masterful delivery in a variety of stylistic forms – from high-tempo, rocky interpretations of Message to Michael and Do You Know the Way to San Jose?, through to a finale including a reggae-tinge to What the World Needs Now Is Love. A middle section of Bacharach’s ballads showcases the contrasting sweet/soulful voices of Stephanie McKeon and Anastacia McCleskey to heart-wrenching effect, with the latter’s paired-back, powerhouse performance of Don’t Make Me Over a real highlight.

October 16, 2015

Rather, familiar songs such as I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself or Windows Of The World find a renewed emotional clarity by virtue of Riabko’s aromatic, bluesy fretwork, folky backing harmonies and notably Anastacia McCleskey’s smoky soul vocals.

October 15, 2015

First produced at Off-Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop in 2013, it was then restaged at London's Menier Chocolate Factory last summer with co-creator and lead singer/guitarist Kyle Riabko recreating his New York troubadour performance, alongside fellow imports Daniel Bailen and James Williams, joining a new company featuring the big voiced American Anastacia McCleskey, the laid-back Dublin-born Stephanie McKeon, and British additions Greg Coulson and Renato Paris. The musicianship of the entire ensemble is absolutely superb, and their palpable love for the material is truly infectious.

October 15, 2015

Admittedly, the stand-out individuals are definitely Kyle Riabko, who is the leading male vocal on the majority of tunes (who also plays the most epic guitar solo I’ve ever seen in theatre before), and Anastacia McCleskey, whose rendition of Don’t Make Me Over had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.

July 16, 2015

Each performer is as talented as the other, and while they all have a principal instrument, they’re equally happy to pluck down a ukulele or guitar from the walls, or dig out some percussion from behind the sofas. Riabko, an accomplished guitarist, has a great voice, with a beautiful clear tone, and is comfortable across various styles; it’s McCleskey and Paris, though, who deliver the stand-out vocals of the evening.

July 16, 2015

Very rarely does a piece of theatre as special as What's It All About? Bacharach Reimaginedcome along. Kyle Riabko and David Lane Seltzer's show presents Burt Bacharach's back catalogue in an entirely new way, highlighting and bringing together recurring themes surrounding love and the true meaning of life.

 

Special mentions must also go to Anastacia McCleskey, Stephanie McKeonand Renato Paris whose voices I could listen to for ever more.

April 23, 2015

Anastasia McCleskey guides us through the trials and tribulations of our characters with a huge belt, but it also has plenty of intention behind it. In other words it’s not all volume. “The Crying Scene is one of her particular vocal standout moments.

April 21, 2015

In this bar, the rock is in the gutter, where the rhythms are hard and the pains are as real as the actors can make them, and they make them, up close and personal.

 

...And Anastacia McCleskey, this tale’s oh-so-unreliable narrator, her rage will make the floor under your seat quake like a heart attack.

 

Murder Ballad is environmental theatre at its best: it surrounds you, it engrosses you, it leaves you thoroughly filled.

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