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Elizabeth Ahlfors

"Let’s Do It"

"A Valentine Rose"
With Amanda McBroom
Café Carlyle, 980 Madison Avenue (at 76th Street). (212) 744-1600
Opened January 29, 2013
Tues. through Sat. at 8:45 PM
Cover charge Tues-Thurs: $65 per person ($45 bar seating) Cover charge Fri-Sat: $75 per person ($45 bar seating)
Closes February 9, 2013
Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors January 29, 2013

Amanda Mc Broom presents "A Valentine Rose" to the Cafe Carlyle. Photo by Stephen Sorokoff.

"A Valentine Rose" is not kid stuff. It’s "romance, adult style" for singer, songwriter, actor Amanda McBroom’s debut at the Café Carlyle, bringing a zesty lineup of music delivered with perception and humor ("I feel like I’m in Rhonda Fleming’s living room!") McBroom, a stylish, outgoing, upbeat performer, chooses some of the best from standard songwriters like Dorothy Fields, Sammy Cahn and Jacques Brel. She also adds numerous original songs that reach out and touch love’s various facets.

Accompanied by her musical director, pianist and songwriter, Michele Brourman and Dan Fabricant on bass, McBroom quickly builds a bright connection with the audience, communicating discerning interpretations. Touching the heart is an original song she wrote with Michele Brourman that recounts a meeting with an "Old Love" that she says was inspired by a "Dear Abby" column. Her music frequently links back to her own life. The bittersweet, "Erroll Flynn," (which she wrote with Gordon Hunt) is an ode to her father, David Bruce, a movie actor who never reached stardom and whom she often saw standing up there on the screen beside Erroll Flynn. "Dance," with it tender lyrics, remind us of the need to keep romance alive with memories like, "In the kitchen, in the hall, for no reason there at all, we would catch each other’s eyes and we would dance." A misty-eyed look at a romance gone sour is, "Beautiful Mistake" with John Bucchino’s music.

The impressionistic romanticism of, "The Rose," McBroom’s mega-hit, earned a Golden Globe for Bette Midler who recorded the song for a film. It was also recorded by Barbra Streisand, Karen Akers, Joan Baez, Conway Twitty and around the world in various languages. "The Rose," like Rodgers and Hart’s standard, "My Funny Valentine," is one of the musts for an evening dedicated to love."

From the standard songbook comes Kern and Fields’ dreamy, "The Way You Look Tonight," and McBroom’s opener, Cole Porter’s classic, "Let’s Do It, (Let’s Fall in Love). She also includes Porter’s sly and sexy, "I’ve Got You Under My Skin," is made even sexier with Brourman’s creative arrangement.

Coming late in the program is the passionate, "Marieke," from, "Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris." This is the show’s dynamic highlight. McBroon scales the emotion of loss from sorrow to despair and finally, to the desperation of the last lines. In this Brel classic, it feels as if McBroom figuratively steps away from the audience and into a personal sphere where her emotions flow free and expressively.

In her rich and rangy contralto voice, Amanda McBroom searches for, and delivers the intent of the song. It may be cheeky fun like, "Everyone’s Going to Love an Ass Sometime," or blatantly romantic like, "If the Stars Were Mine," Madelyn Gardot’s evocative ballad over a sensuous Latin beat. What she calls "the perfect love song", Michelle Brourman and Karen Gottlieb’s, "My Favorite Year," adds to the nostalgia wafting through the show and McBroom makes all these various aspects of love easy listening with her commanding sophisticated professionalism.

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