It's a time-proven formula: Pop plus dumb equals ka-ching. So how did Burt Bacharach, one of the most successful pop composers of the twentieth century, end up with a body of sophisticated, intelligent hits? Maybe it's because his songs -- including dozens of classics such as "Walk on By," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and "What the World Needs Now Is Love" -- were able to focus on intimate, everyday emotions even as they took in a breathtaking panorama of jazz, bossa nova and soul influences. For proof of how far Bacharach's work transcends the pop canon, catch A Starlit Evening With Burt Bacharach and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, the CSO's 2004-2005 season opener. During tonight's gala, the orchestra will accompany the celebrated songsmith as he mans the piano, microphone and memories. Although most of Bacharach's chart-busters were sung by luminaries like Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones and the Carpenters, his string of solo albums over the years -- not to mention recent collaborations with Elvis Costello and Ronald Isley -- demonstrate just how versatile and enduring a performer he is.
"Burt is a legend," says CSO spokeswoman Jayce Keane. "He's had four decades of huge hits. To put a big orchestra behind his music, you know it's going to be fabulous."
The concert begins at 8:30 p.m. in Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Seats cost between $23 and $88, with discounts available for children, students and seniors; a $350 package includes a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m., dinner, premium concert tickets and admission to an after-party. For tickets and information, call 303-292-5566 or visit www.coloradosymphony.com. -- Jason Heller
Bluegrass Gas The Avalanche Jam brings a mountain of music FRI, 9/10
Although bluegrass music is rooted in Kentucky, it resonates with the Western spirit. At today's 2004 Avalanche Jam, Coloradans will have a chance to show that spirit as they kick up a storm to the tunes of the homegrown Hit & Run Bluegrass band.
Proceeds from the Appalachian-music-inspired fundraiser will go to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, a Boulder-based organization that forecasts landslides and other geological events for our state. The hoedown starts at 5 p.m. on the south lawn of the American Mountaineering Center, 710 Tenth Street in Golden. In addition to being slammed by several half-hour Hit & Run sets, jammers will be tempted by items featured in the benefit's silent auction, such as ski passes and avalanche beacons.
Tickets, $30 in advance or $35 at the gate (children under twelve admitted free), include a hearty dinner and a selection of beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages.
The main character in The Blue Vagabond represents folks who fly the "Anything helps, God bless" signs. The drama, written by Denverite Kurt Lewis and set here, focuses on a transient man as he encounters people in the working world. Lewis hopes the show will give a human face to the homeless. "People try to ignore them, and they shouldn't," he says. "One of the worst things in life is to be ignored."
The thought-provoking Vagabond is presented by Arcos Azules, a local theater company whose mission is to "bridge the gaps" between cultures. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, through September 26, at Theatre du Quirque, 2119 East 17th Avenue. Tickets are $10 to $12, with a portion of the proceeds going to local shelters. Call 720-394-6198 or visit www.arcosazules.org for more information. -- Caitlin Smith
High Hopes A new musical channels the spirit of the Rat Pack TUES, 9/14
In Heaven Help Us!, a new musical opening tonight at the Buell Theatre, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. are transported back from beyond the grave to correct a thirty-year-old white lie. The lie? My money's on Dino confronting some Las Vegas housewife and confessing, "All right, you got me. The kid's mine. Sue me." "Essentially, the souls of the three performers are let out of heaven to make good on a promise Frank made to some kid in a nightclub to help him with his career thirty years ago," reveals Denver Center Attractions' Jenny Schiavone.
I was close.
The production, which runs through October 3, features a fifteen-piece orchestra performing 34 classics, including "Come Fly With Me," "High Hopes" and "I've Got You Under My Skin."
The Buell is in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets; tonight's show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, $10 to $60, are available at 303-893-4100, 1-866-464-2626 or www.denvercenter.org. -- Adam Cayton-Holland