Florida Studio Theatre Kicks Off Summer Season with Burt and Me

The songs of Burt Bacharach drive this show about a lifelong fan.

By Kay Kipling June 5, 2017

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Cast members deliver a Burt Bacharach tune in Burt and Me.


Florida Studio Theatre typically takes a light approach to the summer season, and that’s certainly the case with the show Burt and Me, now playing at the Gompertz Theatre.

As you might or might not guess from the title, the show features the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David (although David doesn’t really get a nod until the end of the show; it might have been nice if writer Larry McKenna could have figured out a way to give him his due earlier on). But it’s not a revue; rather, it’s tied to a slight story about a young man named Joe (Jordan Ahnquist) whose love for Bacharach’s songs is a constant in his life from his early piano lessons in his Philadelphia home, during Bacharach’s heyday of the 1960s and ‘70s.

Joe lives with his widowed father (Michael Marotta) and eventually attends a Catholic high school where he meets the love of his life, Lacey (Jillian Louis). Fortunately, she shares his passion for all things Bacharach (maybe she wouldn’t if she saw the big poster of Burt’s one-time wife Angie Dickinson in Joe’s room), but their high school romance is threatened by separation during their college years. Will love (and Burt) keep them together?

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Jordan Ahnquist and Michael Marotta


There’s not much more to the plot than that, and the hour-long first act serves mostly to deliver a bunch of upbeat pop tunes from the songwriter, like “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?,” “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and other tunes Bacharach fans will enjoy hearing. It’s pretty relentlessly cheerful, and pretty broad, as we meet the school’s choral group, Blue Haze, keeping up constant (if not always necessary) movement through Kathryn Gasper’s choreography.

The second act offers a bit more drama, as that college break-up and the relationship between Joe and his dad come to the fore, and personally I like the slower, more heartfelt numbers like “One Less Bell to Answer” and “A House Is Not a Home,” here, especially when sung by Louis, who probably has the best voice in the cast. Ahnquist is not as well equipped vocally, but he certainly has a lot of energy, and what little emotional connection there is to the show comes through mostly in his interaction with Marotta, although he and Louis have some moments, too.

Nick Anastasia as Joe’s girl-hungry friend Jerry and Stacey Harris as the object of his, er, affections  provide predictable comic backup, and the show’s other cast members, Matthew Scott Robertson and Savannah Sinclair, don’t really have characters at all most of the time (she does play Joe’s piano teacher) but add to the dance  numbers with enthusiasm.

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Stacey Harris and Nick Anastasia


The set design by Jeff Dean consists of piano keys furling around the stage, where the four-man band deftly accompanies the singers, plus sheet music hanging in the background. And costume designer Sarah Bertolozzi’s clothing choices take us back to the more obvious artifacts of the period.

The audience the night I attended Burt and Me, responded with obvious pleasure, and even a standing ovation. I wish I could have felt such a strong reaction, but, though thin, at least the show does remind us of all those great tunes. Burt and Me continues through June 18; for tickets call 366-9000 or visit

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