Talking Music: Singer Arabella Rodrigo Discusses Back To Bacharach
Back to Bacharach, a show celebrating the music of Burt Bacharach, one of the most accomplished popular composers of the 20th Century, is currently packing theatres as it tours the UK. The production, which has toured since September 2015 and is performed by 3 of the finest West-End singers along with a live band recreating Burt Bacharach's timeless hits, among them Alfie, Anyone Who Had a Heart, Walk On By and What's New Pussycat?
For singer and actress Arabella Rodrigo, who joined the show 18 months ago, been part of the Back To Bacharach company is a fantastic job. Arabella tells Andy Howells:
“I’ve always been a fan of his music. I love Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick and I hadn’t realised how many of their songs I’d loved had all been written by Burt Bacharach. He has quite a different style but there’s always different things going on in his songs.”
Hertfordshire born Arabella began singing when she was at school and progressed through to school choirs before making her professional singing debut at the prestigious Ealing Jazz Festival in 2003. She trained at both the London College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music.
Following her training, Arabella pursued a career in musical theatre and opera through a variety of solo performances and stage shows including the West-End production of Dusty, which she says was a good grounding in music history for both Burt Bacharach and 60s female pop icon, Dusty Springfield.
“I was in the West End production of Dusty a couple of years ago. I played her girlfriend Norma Tanega, which was a real insight into a Dusty Springfield that I didn’t know”
Arabella’s diverse talents were stretched even further in another musical.
“I was also in Zorro the Musical which was completely different with lots of Flamenco dancing, I think I did more Flamenco than sword fighting!”
Thankfully Arabella’s sword fighting skills haven’t been called upon for Back To Bacharach, but her diverse singing capabilities have.
“I used to be a classical singer when I first started training,” she says, “Then I kind of changed into musical theatre and pop as I went, it gave me a really good grounding to take on all styles.”
Arabella first saw Back to Bacharach 18 months ago, when she went along to see a performance featuring her husband, the singer Martin Neely. Arabella was invited to join the show and found her previous experience of performing a wide range of music styles helped considerably.
“It helps with the Burt Bacharach material as well because of the range. I sing high backing vocals and you need to be a classical singer to sing some of those. If you listen to something like Wishin’ and Hopin’ I’m right up in the high part of my voice for something like that.”
As well as singing backing vocals Arabella will also be in the spotlight performing solo renditions of some of Burt Bacharach’s greatest hits.
“My favourite is Anyone Who Had a Heart. I Love It! It’s really dramatic and it introduced me to a different side of Cilla Black."
In order to give her best performances as Back To Bacharach continues to tour across the UK during the winter months, Arabella’s priority is to look after her voice in order to give her best performances for the show.
“I just make sure that I’m eating healthily, drinking lots of water,”
“Specific to singers I find inhaling steam really helps. Just putting my head over a bowl of water with a towel and that really helps to keep everything clear and just sleep whenever we can.”
So, what can music fans look forward to when they go to see Back to Bacharach?
“It’s a feelgood concert of all Burt Bacharach music. What’s special about it is our band. We’ve got an 8-piece band with a 3-piece brass section. Nowadays that’s so rare but they really bring the show to life. You’ve also got Martin, the male singer and three female singers and great material.”
“It’s getting a really warm welcome in theatres around the country. We quite often get a lovely standing ovation towards the end and we come out with our charity buckets for Breast Cancer Now at the end of the night and meet everyone. They are just thrilled to have taken a trip down Memory Lane!”
Back to Bacharach plays Cardiff’s St David’s Hall on January 20 at 7.30pm. For ticket details visit stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk/whats-on/back-to-bacharach/ or call the box office on 02920 878444
The touring production of Back to Bacharach are also supporting the Breast Cancer Now charity by donating £1 from each theatre ticket sold to raise a minimum of £10,000 to aid in breast cancer research.
For more information on Breast Cancer Now’s work, visit breastcancernow.org or follow Breast Cancer Now on Twitter or on Facebook.