AMANDA McBROOM: PIZZA ON THE PARK
One of the major ironies of the new century is that just when we are moving into what may well be seen as the greatest time for late-night cabaret since the 1930s, there is almost nowhere left to catch up with it: in London, the Pizza on the Park in Knightsbridge; in New York, the Algonquin and the Firebird; in San Francisco, the Plush Room, and that’s about it.
So find it where and when and while you can: currently at the Pizza on the Park, through June 10 only before that magical room reverts to the jazzmen, there’s a rare chance to see and hear Amanda McBroom, still shamefully unknown over here despite the fact that she wrote Bette Midler’s THE ROSE and sings an entire evening of her own songs, something none of her contemporaries can claim to rival.
McBroom is not only the greatest singer-songwriter of her cabaret generation, but also about the only one: she writes short stories and sets them to music, stories of love and loss, and it is no surprise to discover that her great mentor was Jacques Brel, in whose songs she first appeared on Broadway a couple of decades ago.
Like Brel, whose Marik she sings definitively, she can put the ice into the heart of a love song: all her writing is personal to her, but at the same time to us as well. I first fell in love with her when she came over here five years ago and sang her own ERROL FLYNN. Since then I must have played that track of her CD on a weekly if not daily basis: why? Because it tells the story of herself, sitting alone in front of a late-night television movie in California and suddenly seeing her father, who was always the first guy to get shot in an Errol Flynn western. As she watches, older now than her father was when he made those 1930s films, she learns about him, about herself, about their uneasy relationship and about television’s curious gift of life after death. You don’t have to have, as she and I both do, fathers who turn up most nights in the late movie on TV, but it sure helps.
McBroom is a thoughtful, touching, intelligent lyrical writer and there are not so many of those around that we can afford to ignore her, a love-child of Jacques Brel and Dory Previn, with a quicksilver Sondheim mind, she has to be seen to be celebrated, and as always you have very little time; hasten along.