Written on February 19, 2011 – 2:38 am | by Cameron Hussey
The composer-lyricist joined by Broadway stars Jenn Colella & Ann Harada with Matt Gallagher’s three-piece band.
When: Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m. dinner; 9:30 p.m. show.
Where: Lorenzo’s Cabaret, Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave., Bloomfield.
How much: $35 show charge; $15 food/drink minimum.
More info: LorenzosDining.com, 718-477-2400. STATEN ISLAND, NY — Oh, the people that come out of Amanda Green’s mouth.
There are the saucy, competitive high school cheerleaders; the rough pickup truck-lovin’ Texans, not to forget the geeky teenage boys who want to rap.
In short, they’re the characters who populate the award-winning lyricist’s songs, aka the multiple personalities getting ready for a night out on Staten Island — and their biggest debuts yet.
Green, winner of MAC Awards, Bistro Awards, the Jonathan Larson Award and honors from the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, is working on two major theater projects: “Bring It On: The Musical,” a stage version of the 2000 cult-film, and “Hands on a Hard Body,” a musical version of the 1997 documentary film.
Both shows could very well be headed to Broadway’s white-hot spotlights after a planned national tour.
“Bring it On” — for which Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In the Heights”) co-wrote the lyrics — opened to positive reviews in Atlanta last month. “Hard Body,” with Green as the lyricist and Trey Anastasio, lead singer of Phish, as the composer is being workshopped.
Green will offer sneak peeks of songs from both shows during a Feb. 25 concert in Lorenzo’s Cabaret in the Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave., Bloomfield.
“I think it will be really fun,” says Green, who is bringing singing actresses Jenn Colella (“High Fidelity”), and Ann Harada (“Avenue Q”), as well as a three-piece band headed by Matt Gallagher (“9 to 5,” “Legally Blonde”).
“These are incredible performers,” says the headliner, who made her Lorenzo’s debut in October. “Each one of them could have their own evening. You’re really getting a lot for your money.”
Venue owner Richard Nicotra, a longtime fan of Green’s, specifically selected her to perform on his birthday proper.
“She’s one of the few cabaret singers who can make me laugh and cry in the same song,” says the cabaret owner who has caught Green’s act 10 previous times, most recently at Manhattan’s Birdland jazz club.
The witty lyricist is not well-known among Lorenzo’s regulars, concedes Nicotra. “But once people come and see her, they’ll follow her and come to every one of her concerts. It almost becomes a cult.”
The daughter of Broadway lyricist Adolph Green (“Wonderful Town,” “Bells Are Ringing”) and Tony-winning singer-actress Phyllis Newman, Green is theater royalty. As a child, she recalls gathering around the family piano with legendary composers Leonard Bernstein (“West Side Story,” “On the Town) and Cy Coleman (“Sweet Charity”).
But she didn’t immediately pursue a career on the Great White Way.
Green began her professional songwriting career in rock and pop. Then, enamored with Lyle Lovett’s wry style, the Brown University grad went to Nashville to pen country songs. But it never felt right.
So she enrolled in Manhattan’s prestigious BMI Lehman-Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop, where she became classmates with “Avenue Q” co-creators Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. At that time, Green also forged a partnership with composer Tom Kitt, and together they collaborated on Broadway’s short-lived “High Fidelity.” For “Bring it On,” Jeff Whitty, (“Avenue Q’s” librettist) provides the book and Kitt shares lyricist duties with Green and Miranda.
“We had a blast working together,” says the 40something Green. “We would all go off in our corners and then we’d get together and share our work. It takes a village to write a musical.”
“Bring it On” follows two squads of cheerleaders at two schools — one an upper-crusty institution, the other an urban-flavored setting — competing for a national cheerleading title.
“Audiences are having a great time. It was really thrilling to see it come to life because we’ve been writing it for two years,” says Green, never a cheerleader, but a one-time high school basketball and softball player. “Every time those guys and girls fly 40 feet in the air, it’s breathtaking. It’s a very cool combination of gymnastics and hip-hop dancing.”
She met her “Hard Body” collaborator, Phish’s Anastasio, through a mutual friend.
“He was looking for someone to write lyrics for his stuff,” says Green. “He had mentioned that he loved Broadway shows and musical theater. I had been writing songs for ‘Hands on a Hard Body’ and I also felt like there could be more and felt like something was missing.”
Anastasio adds “incredible musicality” to the project, says Green, who never misses a chance to see his genre-busting jam band.
Based on the 1997 documentary by director S.R. Binder, “Hard Body” follows 24 contestants as they compete in an endurance/sleep deprivation contest to win a new Nissan Hardbody truck. The contestants must keep a hand on the truck at all times and if they remove a paw, they lose their chance at the pick-up. The last person to keep their hand glued to the truck, wins.
Nicotra recalls being thoroughly impressed by one song from the show. In it, an older character says he would travel cross-country if he won and leave his wife behind. His former flame then sings about their teenage romance. “The wife sings, ‘When you were 17 you never wanted to be away from me,’¤”says the cabaret owner.
Nicotra and Green’s mother, who was sitting next to him, had the same reaction, he says, recalling: “We were both crying.”
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