[Why] Don’t You Want Me Baby? in “Mandy Picks a Husband”
“Mandy Picks a Husband” features no sound or lighting cues, no costume changes or props, and no set (save two chairs). Amanda Broomell is truly solo as she performs ‑ and sings ‑ through a hilarious, heartbreaking, and captivating 70‑minute version of her life. Ms. Broomell begins her story in the present, as a single woman approaching forty. She describes a recent Bumble date with a man who seemed totally into her, but ghosted her a week later. Thus, begin the trials and tribulations of her adult dating life ‑ emotionally unavailable men whom, she realizes, she likes simply because they seem to like her. Ms. Broomell punctuates her stories with cleverly reworded riffs on classic 80s love songs. She sings acapella, with humor, confidence, and vulnerability all at once. But “Mandy Picks a Husband” is a lot more than funny‑bad dating stories. It is also the story of Ms. Broomell’s insecurities and childhood trauma. At 11, she was repeatedly sexually abused by her neighbor and his friends. She finally reckoned with that trauma in college and began a decades‑long quest to find healing and, ultimately, love. Ms. Broomell describes herself as an overachiever. She was the captain of nearly every extracurricular organization at her high school. She maintained straight As and an academic scholarship all through college ‑ even while battling substance addiction. When she didn’t get an agent out of grad school, she “quit acting” and began temping at a financial firm, eventually working her way up to becoming a VP (“with an MFA in acting”). After she finally confessed her trauma to her therapist ‑ the first time she’d ever told anyone about what happened ‑ she decided to make her own healing “a full‑time job.” To the outside world, Ms. Broomell was and is a success. But external achievements, she found, did not equate happiness. After a series of dysfunctional and unfulfilling relationships, Ms. Broomell resolved to quit dating and be a happily empowered single woman in her late 30s. But at an empowerment workshop, when asked what she wanted deep in her core, she was surprised to find that the answer was “a husband.” A partner to trust and share a life with. This self‑revelation ‑ plus her infatuation with “The Bachelor” franchise ‑ inspired her project, “Get a Husband 2018.” She started an Instagram page chronicling her dating endeavors. The title for that page and for this show, “Mandy Picks a Husband,” is, in part, a reclamation of the childhood nickname she had abandoned in her efforts to heal from trauma (and because she thought it sounded better than “Amanda Picks a Husband”). Ms. Broomell’s physicality, knack for character voices, and honest, direct performance is captivating, hilarious, and moving. Ms. Broomell says that one of her therapists told her that the men she chose to date were a reflection of her feelings about herself. “Well,” she replied, “I guess I feel like a ghost!” Later, this quip became the crux of Ms. Broomell’s ongoing journey to love. She had picked emotionally unavailable men because she, too, was emotionally unavailable. Being emotionally available requires self‑love and trust, and she’s still working on that. Aren’t we all?
“Mandy Picks a Husband” Written and Performed by Amanda Broomell November 21 at 7:30PM Photo by Brian Navarro 2019 United Solo Theater Festival Theatre Row 410 West 42nd Street New York City
ALLYCE MORRISSEY is a dramaturg based in New York City. She holds an MA in Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a BA in English from Villanova University. She also works in entertainment advertising.