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THEATER REVIEW: The Old Globe’s world premiere of Bacharach-Sater's “Some Lovers” is a work in progress

A modern twist on “The Gift Of The Magi,” O. Henry’s Christmas classic, the world premiere of “Some Lovers” at The Old Globe has a long way to go before it becomes a holiday tradition.

The new musical, featuring music by Burt Bacharach and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, is getting its inaugural run through Dec. 31 in the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, an intimate in-the-round space.

This is the first musical by the Academy Award and Grammy Award winning Bacharach since he wrote the music for “Promises, Promises” (1968), which was revived on Broadway in 2010.

Bacharach teams up with Sater, who won two Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Musical Score for “Spring Awakening” (2007). The results are very mixed.

The Bacharach-Sater team offers 18 original songs in “Some Lovers,” and it is hard to imagine any of them becoming hits. The strongest song was “Just Walk Away,” sung by Molly (Michelle Duffy), in which see sings about why she should leave her lover. “Hold Me” is also a nice ditty, sung by Molly, Young Molly (Jenni Barber), Ben (Jason Danieley) and Young Ben (Andrew Mueller).

It’s Christmas Eve, and Molly and Ben are estranged lovers who are haunted by their visions of their past. Molly and Ben interact with Young Molly and Young Ben, ghosts from their past, who will eventually guide them back to each other.

The story telling – about a struggling songwriter and the woman who loves him -- is almost exclusively told through song, aided by a small orchestra hidden off-stage that on occasion overpowers the vocals. Tisk, tisk.

Overall, the four cast members display competent vocals and excellent harmonies, but none are stellar or memorable.

“Some Lovers” simply doesn’t feel contemporary, and Bacharach’s music seems trapped in the happy genre he is famous for from the 1970s. Sater’s heaving of “F bombs” in the limited dialogue doesn’t make the musical au courant, just vulgar.

It’s clear this new musical needs a lot of tinkering. Hopefully, director Will Frears will be huddling with Bacharach and Sater to finish this work in progress.

The details

“Some Lovers” plays through Dec. 31 at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. The musical runs for 90 minutes without an intermission.

Ticket prices start at $35. To buy tickets, click HERE or call (619) 234-5623.