While making her Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael debut during a one-night appearance Friday, looking every inch the cabaret star, she is, Amanda McBroom demonstrated not only that she is a seasoned entertainer but also a gifted songwriter.
Accompanied by her long-time music director, songwriting partner and pianist Michele Brourman, McBroom displayed an easy-going affability and charm that connected her with the audience during a program that consisted of songs written by her and Brourman, along with standards from the Great American Songbook. Playing to a smallish, yet receptive audience, McBroom, a youthful 75-year-old, also displayed that she still possesses substantial vocal power and plenty of energy during a 90-minute set that included humorous anecdotes about her career and interesting background on the songs themselves, all of which endeared her to the attentive crowd of onlookers.
Songs that I enjoyed most thoroughly included all of those she wrote or co-wrote with Brourman, all of which were highly poetic, such as “Old Love,” “Ship in a Bottle,” “Round,” and “Titania.” Other highlights were renditions of Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns”; a medley of “The Way You Look” by Dorothy Fields, a major songwriting influence of McBroom’s; “Dance” written by McBroom; and “Errol Flynn” a wistful song she wrote with Gordon Hunt about her film actor father, David Bruce.
A special moment during the show occurred when Brourman performed “My Favorite Year,” a poignant song she co-wrote with Karen Gottlieb, recorded by Michael Feinstein, who, coincidently was in attendance at the club that bears his name. The artistic director of the Center for the Performing Arts was in the neighborhood because he performed his tribute to Judy Garland concert at the Palladium Saturday. The showstopper was the frenetic “Carousel,” by Jacques Brel, from “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well in Paris,” a show McBroom had performed in early in her career.
Having interviewed McBroom in this column prior to her show and having seen her in the late nineties when she appeared at The Cabaret at the Columbia Club, I had a good idea of what to expect when I saw her Saturday. What was reinforced, however, was McBroom’s appealing personality, which she projects both on and off stage and also her authenticity that shines through her storytelling. She is the epitome of an artist who truly represents the best of what the intimate art form cabaret is all about.