Ron describes his cabaret experiences on his last jaunt to the Big Apple:
I had a wonderful, if whirlwind, cabaret/theater day in NY this past weekend. It started with Lina Koutrakos’ weekly singing class, and ended with Amanda McBroom’s show “Noir” at the Metropolitan Room. Sandwiched in between was a visit to The Schoenfeld Theatre, to see Patrick Stewart and T.R. Knight in David Mamet’s “A Life In The Theatre.”
Lina’s class, as always, was inspiring, watching all her students stretch, (and being personally stretched) and go places that we had not necessarily considered. During a break between students, Lina talked about Amanda’s show, having seen it two nights earlier. She commented about how amazing the show was, and that the show was a study in someone who is a master of the craft of cabaret, employing an economy of motion and clarity of purpose, and that Amanda’s performance was mesmerizing. At this point, I could not wait to see Amanda’s show, “Noir”, since I already had reservations for the 7pm show.
After class, I headed to TKTS to get tickets to “A Life In The Theatre”. I scored an aisle seat and headed to the theatre. I had not read the reviews, nor had ever read the play previously, so I had no pre-conceived notions. To be honest, I wanted to see the show, not as much for the show, but to see Patrick Stewart, and T.R. Knight in a live performance. From that standpoint, I was not disappointed.
The play gives the audience a view of the actors’ lives, through a series of fairly short vignettes. Some as short as five lines. In this production, the director took the path of “more is more” with full costumes, and sets, for each of the vignettes. (After talking to Michael, who has seen and read the play before, the play is usually done bare staged, and the use of minimal costuming.)
Due to the director’s vision for the play, it turned the stage crew and set changes into integral parts of the play. Having spent time behind the curtain, as well as in front of it, I appreciated this approach, but I don’t think that it worked, there were many times the show ground to a halt. Although, as I get further from the performance, my quibble with this becomes less intense.
After catching a bite, I headed to The Metropolitan Room for Amanda’s show. The room was filled to the brim. The show started and I attempted to do the study that Lina had suggested earlier in the day. It was impossible. Retrospectively I can do the study, but since Amanda is such a commanding, ”in the moment” performer, all I could do during the show was experience the emotion, and enjoy the journey, and hold on to my seat. Her commitment to the material is flawless. This may be aided, in large part, by her having written most of the lyrics to the songs she sang, but it never faltered, even during those songs that she didn’t write.
She was accompanied by her writing collaborator, Michelle Brourman. Michele’s arrangements fitted Amanda like a glove, both supporting her, and at times playing a counterpoint to what was being sung.
A complete set list follows. I must thank a fellow cabaret enthusiast, seated across the aisle from me, who had seen the show the previous Thursday, and had written down the set list. Sorry to say, I have to do this anonymously since with my addled brain, I cannot remember the kind gentleman’s name.
I was lucky to have heard some of the music from Amanda and Michelle’s show “Dangerous Beauty” on my Italy jaunt, but a highlight of the show for me was “The Art of Seduction”, where as Lina said, she sings the basest of lyrics with a dignity that only she can pull off.
The set list (as well as we could put together):
- Let’s Order In
- Nice Girls Don’t Eat Breakfast
- I’ve Got You Under My Skin
- Lady Has The Blues
- Blizzard Of Lies
- I Miss Monica
- Hunter’s Night
- My Life’s Been Good So Far
- Song of Old Lovers (La Chanson Des Vieux Amants)
- Congratulations (the AARP Song)
- The Art of Seduction (from their show Dangerous Beauty)
- The Early Morning Hangers-On (Les Paumes Du Petit Matin)
- The Rose
- Errol Flynn
- I’m Not Afraid (was in here as well, but I don’t know where)