Theatre Reviews Limited
September 30, 1999
Amanda Green: Take It Like Amanda
At: The Laurie Beechman Theatre
Reviewer: David Roberts for Theatre Reviews Limited
She's back. Amanda Green is back at the Laurie Beechman Theatre with her outstanding high-energy show "Take It Like Amanda!" And what a return this is. Much of the show's original content (songs and patter) remains unchanged from its March 1999 debut. What's different, in addition to some wonderful new material, is Amanda herself. Amanda returns to the stage with a glow of self-assured energy and power. Yes, power. This power seems to come from a place within, a place of peace and spirit calm which literally charges her performance with what might be called a serene comedic aura. Amanda is still very, very funny. But she is clearly exploring new territory and it's hard to say where this quest will end. Amanda Green could obviously continue in the musical style we have grown to crave. She could, however, just as well write more songs like the hauntingly beautiful "Daddy's Shoulders" and "When You Know Me Better" and continue in a career of more "serious" Country Western/R & B. The joyful news is that, whatever the path "Mandy Jo" takes, it will be the right path for her and a continued blessing for us.
Amanda Green is our Troubadour for the Millennium. Self-effacing, multi-talented, acerbic with the right hint of sweetness, eloquent Amanda. Her songs (the lyrics of all of the program's songs were written by Amanda Green) are an incredible mixture of comedy, ballad, and country-western styles. Her show "Take It Like Amanda" couldn't be more appealing or more destined for success.
"Take It Like Amanda" begins with a nice "overture" by Ms. Green's two fine musicians, Tom Kitt on piano and Chris Huff on guitar. Both of these talented performers also provide vocals throughout the evening's sixteen songs.
After this introduction, Amanda Green arrives on stage with an energy and style that doesn't quit and doesn't compromise. She is the consummate musician and her careful attention to every detail results in a powerhouse of a performance with some of the highest production values I've experienced. Amanda Green is so well prepared that the audience can sit back and relax and enjoy the evening knowing they are in very good hands.
Ms. Green's songs are nothing short of brilliant. Although "very funny" might describe many of them,"thoughtful" and "oddly touching" describe many others. I like the way Amanda can have the audience literally bending over with laughter, then hit them with a more serious and reflective song. This happened on several occasions and it was fascinating to see audience members "think" they were in the midst of a comedic number, only to discover their hearts and souls were being caressed in ways they haven't been in a very long time. This ability to "surprise" is for me the mark of a talented performer who truly cares about what she is doing and how she is doing it.
One of my favorites from the repertoire is "Who's That Guy...?" which Amanda (in her inimitable comedic style) claims to have written in collaboration with Burt Bacharach and, she says, "sums up the Bush administration." You'll have to listen for yourself to understand just how Mr. Bacharach lost the opportunity for some memorable lyrics. "Every Time A Friend Succeeds..." Amanda's "signature song" and the song nominated for a 1999 MAC Award (Special Musical Material), is very funny and very show biz. I very much liked "Afraid to Love You..." which Ms. Green wrote on the occasion of her parents' twenty-fifth anniversary. Perhaps the funniest song in the list is "If You Leave Me..." which has to be the ultimate ode to co-dependence. Amanda sings to her lover, "If you leave me, can I come, too?" "I don't wanna be alone with you know who."
Throughout the evening, Amanda engages the audience in clever and amusing patter which strings her songs together seamlessly. It is not every cabaret performer who can manage to make everything work so well. What she tells the audience is so honest and self-effacing. She shares moments from her life and career which let the audience know just enough about their host, yet leaving them with wishing they knew more. Amanda describes herself as just "left of center," which she translates to mean "Jewish and of questionable moral character."
Amanda Green's songs are about life and love, relationship, disappointment, and sometimes nothing at all. They are all well written and they are all performed with great grace and style. It would be a shame if anyone missed Amanda's remaining shows at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. It is no mistake that Amanda Green received the 1999 MAC Awards for Musical Comedy Performer and Female Stand-Up.
The closing number, "Miracle," might be to the close of the Clinton era what "Who's That Guy...?" could be to the Bush era. In "Miracle" Amanda writes, "If this is life, then I'm confused." We've all been through some difficult years and I have the feeling that Amanda Green with be with us for a long time, leading us through these years to a different place, a place of joy and perspective and hope. Thank you, Amanda Green, for the most wonderful feelings of hope and peace.