Planting a Garden Beyond ‘The Rose’
Stephen Holden, The New York Times – Saturday Sept. 20, 1997
When Amanda McBroom made her New York cabaret debut 14 years ago at the now defunct Freddy’s Supper Club, the Los Angeles based singer and songwriter was known primarily for having composed the title song for the movie “The Rose.” Since then, Ms. McBroom has returned regularly to Manhattan nightclubs, warming them with a gregarious West Coast style of cabaret that is by turns homey, theatrical, jazzy, soul-searching, sexy and comic.
Her new show, which plays at Rainbow and Stars through Oct. 21, has all the familiar elements, blended more confidently than ever. Well chosen standards are interwoven among finely made original songs that formalize 1970’s confessional folk-pop into a semi-theatrical ballad. Some of Ms. McBroom’s originals, like “Round”, her humorous ode to zaftig sensuality in the age of Kate Moss, are comic. Others, like “Dance”, a harried housewife’s lament for the erosion of romance amid the bustle of family life, strike a common chord with an acuteness that transcends soap opera cliché.
Ms. McBroom’s rich warm contralto, which finds a perfect balance between intimate expression and theatrical interpretation, infuses her songs’ first-person narrators with an open hearted humanity that is uplifting for seeming utterly natural, and Joel Silberman’s impassioned piano accompaniment helps drive the songs home.
Along with everything else, Ms. McBroom is a delightful storyteller who observes New York from the perspective of a hip West Coast visitor.
At Wednesday’s early show, she praised the city for having “the handsomest men in the country” (dedicating Rupert Holmes’s “People That You Never Get to Love” to “a young man on roller blades and in lederhosen” she had admired) and remarked about how “chic and unisexual” it was that “the two Democratic mayoral candidates have the same hairdo.”
At once intimate and emotionally expansive, the show is a model of what cabaret ought to be and almost never is.