celebs! hugging! greg!



Take the feed! Subscribe

Get GIH news via Twitter

Follow Greg: Twitter Facebook

Greg on Flickr:

A chat w/Steve Gunderson: He loved Bacharach and David songs so much, he created a musical you thought I was through writing about that terrific musical Back to Bacharach and David playing at The Music Bo @ Fonda in Hollywood, you are almost right.

I have one last interview to share with you and it’s appropriate that it appears last because it’s with Steve Gunderson. If not for his deep love of the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, there would be no show. He created the musical nearly 20 years ago with his longtime pal Kathy Najimy. They have teamed up for this production with Kathy directing and Steve providing musical arrangements and direction.

We spoke during rehearsals for the show.

“I grew up with Kathy and I was just mad about this music and always discovering new Bacharach and David songs and had always wanted to do something,” he said. “So we did a review in New York, we did it on my off nights when I was in Forever Plaid,  and Hal David came and it just sort of went from there. Then we did an off-Broadway run and then that was it. We did our little show.”

But the show continued to be licensed by other theaters and Bacharach happened to see it for the first time.

“This time it’s a whole new world for us because Burt and Hal are coming to rehearsals and are behind it and love it,” Steve said. “It’s really, really great and the material has really evolved. Some of it is the same as when we did it the first time but we’re always taking new looks at it, trying to think of a new way to hear the song. I think sometimes there’s a danger of, when you hear a particular intro to a particular song, you just sit back and close your eyes and listen, sort of detached like you’re listening to the record. So sometimes the challenge is how do you get them listening right at the top? How do you tell the story over again? In some cases you tell the story by just doing the song, like Alfie, because that’s a one-act play. You just have to go down a new avenue and re-look at that and for me, that’s a joy.”

While he’s thrilled by Bacharach’s support, it could have proven to be a real minefield: “I think it’s hard for an arranger who arranges his own stuff to really adore other people’s arrangements. I was just terrified of him seeing the show. And of courser he really loves it and is so supportive of it. The other day, we were supposed to do three songs for him (in rehearsal) and we ended up doing the whole show. He just wanted to hear one after another after another. He just loves it. That’s the icing ion the cake for me is their involvement, this ridiculous childhood dream that I get to live out in theater rehearsals.”

What’s also fun is working with Najimy, his friend forever: “She directed a lot of stuff when we were growing up in San Diego. She had her group of friends and I had my group of friends and we all wrote shows. She was directing then, she’s directed a few things in New York, I’ve been in plays she’s directed before. She’s a wonderful director. She has such a fresh eye.”

And he’d like this current collaboration to last awhile, beyond the May 17 closing date at The Music Box @ Fonda. (Ticket info HERE)

“We hope it’s going everywhere,” Steve said. “But let’s just see how this one goes. I just have my eye on the prize here.”



(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

One Remark

  1. Greetings! I am actually trying to get back in touch with Jim Gunderson as he had invited me to the show but unfortunately, I had to work that night, last minute. I love Burt Bacharach’s music and would like to meet both Gundersons, if possible. I tried to email Jim at the email he had for the show but it came back to me ( Let me know how to reach Jim if that is possible. Thanks a million! ‘cellist, Dr. Janice Foy

Leave a Reply