The Magical Amanda McBroom

 

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By Myra Chanin

 

It’s not easy to write about Amanda McBroom. Words can’t do justice to such a World Class person, poet and performer. All I can do is to tell everybody who reads this to go to her webpage, see where she’s performing next – it just so happens to be a hop skip and a jump away in the City of Brotherly Love on October 11, 2015 — and if it’s at all possible, get your entire body there and just revel in the joy of her presence, her poetry and her music,

P1010676She’s not only a pleasure to hear, she’s a pleasure to watch: elegant, slim, sophisticated, beautifully coifed, made up and elegantly attired in simple black slacks and over-blouse under a graceful, open, long black jacket with a delicate design on a lavender border. Her applauding fans packed the tables at Feinstein’s/54Below and cheered as she stepped on stage at what she calls “the classiest affordable showroom in town,” to wistfully sing to an unbelievably sensuous Shelly Markham melody, with phrases penned by her that cut deep into your soul:

“When did that face appear in the mirror…

The one with time looking out of her eyes

The one that is me, only older.”

And ends triumphantly

“My heart is a strong one,

It believes just one thing,

I’m still seventeen … and it’s spring

We’re all seventeen … and it’s spring!”

Her current Cabaret Show, “Close Up and Personal,” grew out of a flight she took with Marie Kondo sitting in her lap. Ms. Kondo is the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, a book which convinced Amanda to only keep possessions that brought her joy. When she began de-cluttering her music studio, she discovered delicious rhymes she’d forgotten writing but which still stimulated her emotional taste-buds like, “We fell in love too soon or met too late,” from Beautiful Mistake,” written in 2004 to a John Bucchino melody or from “Dance,” for which she wrote the music and lyrics,

“I want them back … the days when everything was possible,

Before we settled down to comfortable despair,

To remember what romance is,

Making Love and taking Chances … “

OMG! What woman hasn’t felt that way at least once in her life!

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George Ball

 

But Ms. McBroom hasn’t felt that way for a long time. She’s been with her husband George Ball since 1969 thanks to their spiritual matchmaker Jacques Brel and they look blissfully happy together. Ball is also a fine singer, when he isn’t watching football games and drinking beer. Amanda admits she’d learned a lot from him, like who Eli Manning is. When she asked him for feedback on her current program’s song list, as usual he was very down to earth. “For God’s sake, sing something they know!” So we have him to thank him for the addition of “Just One of Those Things,” but maybe not. I really prefer Amanda’s lyrics to Cole Porter’s. Porter’s clever but brittle and doesn’t deal with crimes of the heart.

 

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Karen Mason

Her two guests that night were Karen Mason singing “Dance,” which Amanda heard her sing at an audition for a part in McBroom’s first musical – Mason was immediately offered and took the role — and husband George Ball singing “Old Habits Die Hard,” to which her musical director and BFF Michele Brourman wrote the tune. Amanda doesn’t only understand the female heart, she is knowledgeable about male mentality

 

 

 

“Old rivers run deep,

And the promises made to the one you love

Are the hardest ones to keep,

Like being true to the very end,

Making it real, not just pretend

And never turning your back on the friend

Who lies in your arms asleep.”

Just typing this refrain makes me vow to be nicer to my husband Alvin, that long-suffering saint.

We all know about her biggest hit, “The Rose,” which sold enough copies to let her “do my kitchen over and install a pool,” but she has another really greatly appreciated song called “Errol Flynn,” which has been included on a recent list of the 50 Best American Songs. You can listen to it yourself.

 

 

It’s a love song to her father, the actor David Bruce, who stands right behind Errol Flynn in a movie poster, and ends with this wonderful thought, which we should all take seriously, regardless of which end of life we find ourselves:

“So, you daddies and daughters, you sons and you mothers

Remember life’s over before it begins

So love one another and stand close together

As close as my Dad did to old Errol Flynn.”

Photos: Maryann Lopinto

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