Amanda McBroom's cabaret on a grand scale

To those accustomed to tiny, tony rooms with two-drink minimums, presenting the intimate art of cabaret in a 1,000-seat theater may seem oxymoronic, but singer-songwriter Amanda McBroom is unfazed.

“I’ve done it at Carnegie Hall, honey,” she laughs. “If you’re a good cabaret performer, you can turn an outdoor arena into a 200-seat living room.”

Needless to say, she feels up to the challenge; on Saturday she shares the stage of the Herbst Theatre with good friend and sister songwriter Melissa Manchester.

McBroom, best known as the composer of “The Rose” from the Bette Midler film, has been writing and performing music for more than three decades.

She has released a half-dozen CDs, including cast recordings for her two musicals to date, “Heartbeats” and “A Woman of Will”; made a string of television guest appearances in the ’70s and ’80s; and tackles the occasional regional theater production.

She has also composed songs for children’s films, including the cuddly dinosaur adventure series, “The Land Before Time.”

Between current concert engagements, she’s hard at work on her next two projects. For the stage, she is adapting “Dangerous Beauty,” Margaret Rosenthal’s biography of Veronica Franco, an upper-class courtesan and published poet of 16th-century Venice, which was filmed with McBroom’s big-screen heartthrob Rufus Sewell and Jacqueline Bisset.

She’s concurrently developing her next CD, which will feature the music of French composer Jacques Brel, with several songs never before recorded in English.

While a natural, if not cockeyed optimist, McBroom watches developments in the music industry, including the current debates on royalties for Internet music streaming, with justifiable concern.

“The music business is in a huge state of flux. Nobody knows what the hell is going on, and the industry is scrambling to figure out how to make money, since everyone has decided that it’s OK to get your music for free,” she says, referencing illegal file-sharing. “It’s piracy, no doubt about it, but on another level it’s the new

paradigm of the music business and the industry is struggling to respond. I don’t know how new composers and performers are going to earn a living.”

She shrugs off the idea of a strike, akin to the recently settled dispute between Hollywood writers and producers. “There’s always a hundred other people waiting to take your place. We have to reinvent ourselves, but hasn’t that always been the way with art?”

IF YOU GO

Amanda McBroom and Melissa Manchester: In Their Own Words

Where: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 23

Tickets: $25 to $40

Contact: (415) 392-4400 or www.cityboxoffice.com

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