By Tulis McCall
Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton are together again at Pangea with a new show Beautiful Mistake. And are we not the better for it? I don’t know if audiences come to these two for the music (which is out of this world) or just to see these two bask in each other’s company. Who cares?
This evening features the music of Amanda McBroom who is known primarily for writing The Rose. And this iconic song is given due homage in a delicate three part harmony as they are joined by their accompanist Paul Greenwood (who is fab-u-lous). As this evening proves, however, there is a helluva lot more to this musical duo than just a pretty face. Barbara Maier Gustern‘s direction adds just the right touch to every moment.
Also on deck are the songs of John Bucchino (with whom McBroom wrote Beautiful Mistake) and the music of Michele Brouorman. Bleier and Pendleton have selected songs that are reflective. Where has time gone and whatever happened to that person I thought I would love until I died but didn’t? And what about that other one who I have tried to forget but cannot? And, oh yeah, what the hell is going on with this business called life? How did everything come down to this moment and what do I do now?
Pendleton and Bleier are performers with history on and off the stage and they have the right to look back as well as forward. And believe me they do look forward. Life is here and now and very much to be celebrated. They start on a light note with One Of Those Days (McBroom and Michele Brourman) – you know those days. The kind that begin with you stepping on something that your cat or your dog left you – right??? Then It’s Still Spring (McBroom and Shelly Markham) which is a salute to making it to any age because on a good way we are always 17, and it is spring.
Erroll Flynn is a sweet sentiment that I have only heard sung by a woman (specifically McBroom on the Jonathan Schwartz Show) but here it is cherished by Pendleton. The story of a child whose father appeared in movies standing next to old Erroll Flynn. He got third or fourth billing, which wasn’t nothing then and is still something, especially when there is an old poster tacked up on a wall and a dose of late night television. A man singing about his Dad. Simple. Profound.
If I Ever Say I’m Over You, and I’ve Learned to Let Things Go, both by Bucchino, are treasure chests of intimacies. Bleier and Pendleton each take solos and the room is flooded with memories, theirs and ours.
McBroom says she writes movies, not songs. And Wheels is a visual extravaganza of a girl’s journey to elder life that seduces you into its surprising orbit. Taking The Wheel (Bucchino) is an anthem for recognizing that no matter the circumstances, you are alive and there is possibility within your grasp, no matter the bridges burned. Pendleton smashes it out of the park.
Coney Island (from the musical Catered Affair – Bucchino) is one of those ok-here-is-why-love-matters-in-words-of-one-syllable songs. Just once through and you know all you need to know. There world needs no other love song. Period.
McBroom, Bucchino and Brourman are, like these two pros presenting them, filled with memories and parables and the exact right music to accompany the journey. If you listen you will begin to think that these songs were written with you, and you alone, in mind.
Remember life’s over before it begins; love one another and stand close together – as close as my did to old Eroll Flynn.
A beautiful evening that is being REPEATED next week, May 23 at 7:00 at Pangea. The food is delicious, the room elegant, and the company on and off the stage is worth the trip.