Amanda McBroom: Noir – Songs of Love

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Another eloquent and stimulating evening from Amanda McBroom – this time on a new theme of film noir.

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Amanda McBroom has put together a new show and debuted it here in London at the Crazy Coqs. She has chosen a fascinating subject, that of film noir.

Showing her cheekiness from the outset with Bobby Troup’s Nice Girls, she defines noir as “sexy songs for trashy women”, but in fact, she is once again dealing with adult (in the grown-up sense) themes of “loving someone you shouldn’t”.

Her own darker sensual side is feelingly portrayed in some of the respected stalwart standards, such as a medley of Demon Lover ( Michael Smith) and Old Black Magic (Johnny Mercer/ Harold Arlen), but the standout material is mostly that which she has written herself.

Ranging from the witty word pictures of C’est Noir, penned with her long standing superbly gifted MD Michele Brourman, to the sad and affecting Beautiful Mistake, co-written with John Bucchino, these are songs set to become classics in her repertoire. We are fortunate in London to have them premièred here.

McBroom’s lyrics, whether funny or regretful, are searingly honest and unflinching, yet never gratuitous.  It is in pared down elegance that she targets true feelings and complex emotion.  An example is Lady Has the Blues, contrasting everyday domesticity with human longing and desire.

Other items of note include a beautiful interpretation of Johnny Mercer’s mystical song Laura, and material from her musical Lady Macbeth Sings the Blues, featuring raunchy The Bitch is Out.

As ever, Michele Brourman provides sensitive and sometimes robust accompaniment, particularly in Hoagy Carmichael’s Baltimore Oriole, and she gave us a taster of her own show to be seen on Monday night, which promises to be yet another lovely evening, with Hold Out For the Real Thing.

McBroom’s sincere and unique interpretation of lyrics, whether her own or others’, ensures that no matter how frequently one hears a song, we will hear it every time anew. Many times I have heard her sing Errol Flynn, her ode to her actor father who appeared with Flynn in several films, and yet am never failed to be moved. I was by no means the only listener in the house to be touched to tears last night.

With artists like McBroom being presented at Crazy Coqs, we are able to see this style of cabaret performed at its very best. It is also one of the most reasonably priced places in London for a night out.

Fiona-Jane Weston

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About Fiona Jane Weston

I am Fiona-Jane Weston and as well as being a performer myself (see website), I write reviews of and features on shows, mainly on the London cabaret and theatre scene. I have worked in theatre for many years, but decided to embark on a new direction in cabaret in 2009, when I produced 20th Century Woman: The Compact Cabaret. Not wanting to neglect my love of spoken word, particularly drama and verse, I made the conscious decision to include these elements in the programme, as well as wonderful songs, to tell the story of women's changing status and preoccupations throughout the 20th Century and up to now. I was invited to audition for the renowned Cabaret Conference at Yale, run by the late legendary Erv Raible, and that was thrilled to be one of only 26 accepted that year, where I was taught by the masters of the genre. Amanda McBroom (composer of the Bette Middler hit "The Rose" and the poignant "Errol Flynn"), Laurel Massé, original member of Manhattan Transfer, Sally Mayes, Tony Award nominees Sharon McNight and Tovah Feldshuh, and New York cabaret veteran Julie Wilson were all on the faculty. We were also treated to the musical direction of Alex Rybeck, Hubert Tex Arnold and the now late Paul Trueblood. With the benefit of their insightful teaching and great encouragement, I took my show to The Duplex in New York, where I was delighted with the response. Since then, I have produced Loving London: The Capital Cabaret, using the same format of songs, poetry and drama, in various London venues, including Leicester Square Theatre and The Crazy Coqs. 2014, the centenary of World War 1, saw the launch of Wartime Women: the Khaki Cabaret to a sellout house at St. James Theatre, London, garnering great notices, including from The Times and Musical Theatre Review. I have since been touring the show to Belgium and throughout the UK. I hope these reviews and interviews entertain and educate at the same time, and if please do leave comments in the box. It's great to engage in a conversation about the Arts. Fiona-Jane Weston
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