NYC Cabaret Review: AMANDA GREEN & FRIENDS (Birdland Jazz Club)

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by Paulanne Simmons on October 13, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-New York

In what she calls a celebration of autumn, performer and songwriter Amanda Green and her “amazing friends,” Jen Colella, Jarrod Spector, Kelli Barrett, Alan H. Green, Jade Jones and Kristoffer Cusick, presented a program of “chestnuts old and new” from several projects. These projects were occasionally songs she’d written for people such as her own mother, actress and singer Phyllis Newman, but more often they were from musicals she’d created with various lyricists and book writers.

Three of these musicals were Hands on a Hardbody (with Trey Anastasio) and High Fidelity (with Tom Kitt) — total flops, neither of which ran for more than a few weeks — and Mr. Saturday Night (with Jason Robert Brown), the longest run at 28 previews and 116 performances. Another musical, in development and scheduled for production at the Goodman Theatre, is Female Troubles: A Period Piece, a comedy about women’s reproductive rights set in 19th-century England.

Green has a fine voice and a polished delivery, but the real powerhouse performances came from her invited guests: Alan H. Green singing “My Problem Right Here,” from Hands on a Hardbody or Kelli Barrett singing “There’s a Chance,” from Mr. Saturday Night. Although one of the evening’s highlights was Green herself, singing “The Tryers” from Hands on a Hardbody, a song that unfortunately was cut from the show before opening.

Green has a real talent for lyrics that are as sharp as they are funny, as can be seen in songs like “Fame Is Weird,” which she wrote for Brooke Shields, or “Here Comes Betty,” which pokes fun at the post-Watergate era.

Given Green’s obvious talent for writing lyrics that can be moving, clever and funny, it’s hard to understand why she hasn’t received more recognition (she has been nominated for various awards but no cigar). After listening to her repertoire at Birdland on October 9, one might conclude that despite Green’s lyrics, many of her songs are not particularly memorable.

Green’s father Adolph Green, was (with Betty Comden) also a lyricist. He had the good fortune to collaborate with the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne and Cy Coleman. Perhaps Green needs similar good fortune.

Amanda Green & Friends
Birdland Jazz Club, 315 West 44 Street
played on Monday, October 9, 2023, at 7

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