By Linda Amiel Burns
The Amanda McBroom Project celebrated the song of Amanda McBroom at The Laurie Beechman Theater for 4 magical nights with 30 female singers hosted by Eric Michael Gillett.
Amanda McBroom is a popular songwriter and performer who is best known for "The Rose" – the song she wrote for Bette Midler’s film of the same name. Her material is very popular in cabaret as her songs tell a story and gives the performer a lot to work with.
Amanda writes both music and lyrics but often collaborates with Michele Brourman and others. The past two weekends, March 8 & 9, 15 & 16, Eric Michael Gillett hosted and directed The Amanda McBroom Project billed as "1 Great Songwriter, 4 Magical Nights, 30 Incredible Women!" The cast rotated from night to night and the concert that I attended was filled with an amazing array of talent paying tribute to Ms. McBroom’s unique catalogue.
Eric said that he has been thinking about putting this show together for many years and one day the AMP will hopefully be pared down to become a Revue starring 6 women. There were so many highlights in the evening of 26 songs as each and every performer hit a home run with the interesting and often thrilling material they had to work with. The night I attended the dazzling array of talent featured was: Karen Akers, Raissa Katona Bennett, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Shana Farr, Terese Genecco, LaTanya Hall, Leah Jennings, Eva Kantor, Valerie Lemon, Lorinda Lisitza, Rosemary Loar, Heather, MacRae, Kelly McDonald, Tanya Moberly, Marissa Mulder, Lucreta Nicole, Karen Oberlin, Christine Reisner, Sarah Rice, Marta Sanders, KT Sullivan, and Melanie Vaughn with Jeff Cubeta on the piano.
Many of Amanda’s themes are about housewives, middle-class American woman who dream of change and KT Sullivan was terrific on "Putting Things Away" and "Dreaming."
Lacretta Nicole scored with "The Bitch is Out" and Marta Sanders version of "The Dieter’s Prayer" had the audience laughing. Lorinda Lisitza sang one of the best versions of "Errol Flynn" I have heard, simply telling the story of this childhood memory.
Karen Akers sang the heart wrenching "The Portrait" and "Beautiful Mistake" about the journey sometimes being worth the price. Stephanie and Rosemary’s duet of "You’re My Friend" was fun. LaTanya was great with two songs "Crimes of the Heart" about an older woman consumed by passion for a younger man and "Suddenly Love" about reawakening to love. The depth of Amanda’s lyrics was demonstrated over and over again especially with "The Road Not Taken" beautifully sung by Karen Oberlin.
The show ended with Valerie Lemon singing "I Choose to Love" summing up the themes of many of the songs that show resilience of the human spirit and the miracle of love.
Kudos to Eric who put this remarkable tribute together, to the stellar cast of performers who all brought their A-game to the proceedings, and especially to Amanda McBrooms for her incredible insights and brilliant songs.
The Laurie Beechman Theater at The West Bank Café. 212 695-6909
Photography: Maryann Lopinto
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