Amanda McBroom wins hearts at Fairmont Hotel
Michael Granberry, The Dallas Morning News – 10:41 AM CDT on Monday, September 18, 2006
Amanda McBroom is an extraordinary vocalist. She is also an impeccable storyteller. And Saturday night, at a gala for the Dallas Children’s Theater, she demonstrated both sides of her personality in a performance that was both extraordinary and impeccable. Not to mention sassy, sexy and funny.
With the gold curtain of the Fairmont Hotel’s Venetian Room as a backdrop, Ms. McBroom – who spent much of her childhood growing up in Mercedes, Texas – bedazzled the crowd, which in its finery, was treated to an evening of dessert, champagne and cabaret pizazz that is almost unparalleled.
Ms. McBroom became famous for a song she wrote more than 25 years ago: the title track from The Rose, a movie inspired by Texan Janis Joplin. Bette Midler’s recording of the anthem became a hit that still pays handsome royalties. “The Rose” came at the end, by which time a packed Venetian Room had heard Ms. McBroom at her quintessential best, mixing humor with knockout ballads that all but tear at the heart.
As she told The Dallas Morning News in 1999, “If I could serve pizza, I would,” describing a sizzling cabaret act that never fails to mix laughter with tears. “Because I like to approach people from a relaxed place. Because if they’re relaxed, they’re open and then I can surprise them – and make them feel. For me, it’s all about making people feel.”
Accompanied by terrific pianist Joel Silberman, Ms. McBroom graced the crowd with songs about plastic surgery, wrenching breakups, falling in love when you’re too old to stand and, of course, her dad. That would be legendary character actor David Bruce, who, in the poignant “Errol Flynn,” she describes as the man who “got third or fourth billing at the end of each picture.” The name he most often appeared under? Errol Flynn. Mr. Bruce, whose real name was Marden McBroom, was a drinker, his daughter once said, so he didn’t object when his in-laws sent 12-year-old Amanda to live with her aunt after her mother died.
That brought Amanda to Mercedes, which she called “the grapefruit and tuberculosis capital of southwest Texas.” She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and learned to appreciate the state in its lavish eccentricity. So, she paid homage to three high school classmates who came to the show and a South Texas guy who took her on one of her first dates.
Perhaps only Ms. McBroom could pull off a ballad like “Errol Flynn” after sharing her hometown sentiments in “Reynosa” by singing, “Beer and Doritos and slapping mosquitoes was not my idea of romance!”