Mark Morris Dance Group performing The Look of Love, the songs of Burt Bacharach choreographed by Mark Morris.

Kansas City Songwriting Legend Meets Dance Mastermind

“What the world needs now is love sweet love,
That’s the only thing that there’s just too little of

Those words from the classic song by Burt Bacharach have never been truer.

The Harriman-Jewell Series will bring that much-needed emotion to the Muriel Kauffman Theatre Nov. 17 when it presents Mark Morris Dance Group performing The Look of Love, the songs of Burt Bacharach choreographed by Mark Morris.

Morris is a Kansas City favorite and a Harriman-Jewell Series regular. The last time he was in town was for Pepperland, his ballet based on the songs of The Beatles.

“That work is in some ways like the new work they’re bringing, which is The Look of Love,” said Clark Morris, executive and artistic director of the Harriman-Jewell Series. “Again, it’s a collection of songs all by the same artist. Pepperland was very successful, and The Look of Love is already getting terrific reviews around the country.”

The Look of Love, which is an evening-length ballet, will have special interest for Kansas City since it’s based on music by Bacharach, who was born in Kansas City in 1928. His family’s home was on Warwick.

Mark Morris and Ethan Iverson, composer

“How is that for an odd coincidence, since many of these songs were sung by Dionne Warwick?” Bacharach once asked an audience at one of his Kansas City concerts.

Bacharach, who passed away Feb. 8 at the age of 94, has often acknowledged how important Charlie Parker’s music has been to him. And there are many other influences on his work, as well.

“Early in his career he toured a lot for a number of years with Marlene Dietrich,” Morris said. “He did a lot of international travel with her, so I’m sure that music from around the world had an influence on him as a composer.”

Bacharach also studied with French composer Darius Milhaud. There’s a European sophistication and elegance that sets Bacharach’s music apart from typical American pop fare.

And what an endless string of hits he had:

You’ll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart), I Say a Little Prayer, I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, Do You Know the Way to San José and many, many more. It’s obvious that love is the constant theme in Bacharach’s music.

Morris says the production for The Look of Love will match the spirit of the music.

“The costuming is very colorful, as if joy is coming to life in the world,” Morris said. “Most of the theatricality is done through lighting and costuming. Of course, the other essential element to Mark’s work is that there’s live music. He’s very dedicated to that.”

A live band and singer Marcy Harriell will accompany the ballet. After Harriell performed at the premiere of The Look of Love at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Post wrote,

“Harriell’s voice reaches theater-filling force … (it) ranges masterfully from hushed intimacy to a desperate, raging plea, making you feel the destruction of a soul.”

In one of history’s greatest artistic partnerships, Bacharach and lyricist Hal David created an enduring and beloved songbook. Now Morris has become a partner with them, bringing their witty, poignant and beautiful songs to kinetic life.

“Honestly, I’ve never been disappointed by a Mark Morris performance,” Morris said. “I Iike going into a presentation where I have confidence it’s going to be good, but I haven’t seen it before. It’s sort of like going to a Chiefs game where you think they’re going to win, but you don’t know how it’s all going to
come together.”

Speaking of the Chiefs, The Look of Love would make a great date night for Taylor and Travis.

“They should come,” Morris said. “They would have a great time. As Kansas Citians, we need to see Burt Bacharach’s music put into motion by a mastermind like Mark Morris. Mark is an incredibly serious artist, but he also likes the audience to have a good time. I think people will find a lot of joy in this performance, and that’s what the world needs now.”

To reserve tickets and for a complete listing of all concerts, go to

–Patrick Neas

CategoriesArts Partners

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