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REVIEW: Dangerous Beauties
By Obed Medina
November 7, 2010

Portrait of Veronica Franco by Tintoretto
It was a little piece of New York cabaret right here in Los Angeles - Los Feliz to be exact. Show at Barre presented an evening with the songwriting team of Amanda McBroom and Michele Brourman. More like hostesses inviting their most intimate friends for an evening around the piano to showcase some of their new songs, the evening might have seemed a relaxed event. Except...

As the Pasadena Playhouse struggles to emerge from its ignoble shuttering last year, each new production it mounts becomes both a test of its ongoing viability and a demonstration of where the venerable but money-losing theater is headed.

In February, the Playhouse will mount a new musical, Dangerous Beauty, with book by Jeannine Dominy (adapted from her screenplay) based on the 1998 biographical novel, The Honest Courtesan, about Veronica Franco, a fabled 16th Century Venetian beauty and literary figure so celebrated as to have been painted more than once by Tintoretto. Brourman, a winner of the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Award, is the musical’s composer, McBroom its lyricist.

Clearly an evening’s entertainment meant to showcase not only the talents of the songwriting team behind Dangerous Beauty, but a good faith demonstration of new directions for the Pasadena Playhouse, the pressure was on.

The event, aptly titled Dangerous Beauties began with the singer/songwriters performing classics from Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under my Skin” to Brourman’s “My Favorite Year,” a song most closely associated with Michael Feinstein. It was an eclectic bill of fare, and to round out the program, the duo was joined by the wonderful Jenny Powers who came to the stage to complete the evening of beauties.

She immediately went into her set, belting out a sultry rendition of “Sunday Kind Of Love” followed by “Come On Strong.” Powers definitely comes on strong with her crystal clear voice and it is only enhanced when she brings on her husband, Broadway star Matt Cavenaugh to accompany her.

Of course, the night’s focus and the reason for this evening’s cabaret was the new McBroom and Brourman musical. The show has been in development since originating at Northwestern University in 2008. Powers has been workshopping the role of Franco since then, and presented three of the entertaining and effortless songs from the new show.

Encounters with the rest of the show will await opening night February 15 at the Pasadena Playhouse, preceded by two weeks of previews. Edge will be there to report back on the ambitious new venture.

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