Friday, September 23, 2011

Come to the Cabaret!!

Amanda McBroom has been called 'the greatest cabaret performer of her generation, an urban poet who writes like an angel and has a voice to match.'

Truer words were never written!  

What a fabulous way to spend a rainy evening in Pittsfield.  I first heard Amanda several years ago during her last appearance at Barrington Stage 2 and tonight, was pleased to find that she is better than ever.

All summer long I have raled against the screamy singers that have appeared on the Stage 2 and Main Stages of that venue, as well in various other milieus where hollering goes for singing (see my review of Lucie Arnaz!!), so it is a pleasure and a relief to find a singer who just sings, and does it wonderfully.

Her pianist, Michele Bourman, is an equally talented musician who sang along with her on several songs. She played the entire concert by memory. What fingers! She is also a composer and she and Amanda have collaborated on many songs.

In a voice that can be sweet or strong or sexy, or everything at once, Amanda proves that the first sentence in this review is true beyond words.

She sang many of her own songs as well as songs by various other composers. Several Harold Arlen songs were especially tasty.

I loved her bi-partisan political song suggestion to Congress which opens with the line 'Keep it in your pants!'. Oh, that they would.

She is a fine actress as well as a really wonderful singer. All of my students, classical or pop, could take a lesson in what 'involvement' means when you are singing a song whether it be by Arlen or McBroom or Schubert by watching this woman perform. Her performance goes beyond mere singing. She inhabits her songs with her soul.

Probably her most famous song is 'The Rose' which both she and Bette Midler popularized in 1979 and with which she ended her performance.

She looks fabulous but, since she announced tonight that she and her husband have been married for forty-two years, she is obviously not sweet sixteen. But her voice and her presence are as powerful and beautiful as if she were.

She has appeared in concert halls and with symphony orchestras all over the world.

We were the lucky ones to hear her on the first of her two-night stand at Stage 2.

If you live within reach of that theatre, you have one more chance tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. to hear this remarkable woman.

Trust me, even in the pouring rain, it's worth the trip!