PITTSFIELD -- Ideas are floating around constantly, and Michele Brourman is ready to snatch up the good ones to shape stories within the songs of this prolific composer.
"Something sparks an idea, and you make a connection," Brourman explained during a lively phone conversation one morning last weekend from her home in Venice, the hip seaside community in Los Angeles, where legions of idea people either reside or choose to hang out. The gestation period for a Brourman song can range from 90 minutes to three years, she suggested.
Brourman is no stranger in these parts, having appeared at Barrington Stage Company more than once in the company of Amanda McBroom, as accompanist and musical director in the latter's cabaret shows. This time she is the featured attraction in her own show, along with its special guest, the singer Heather Mac Raehe performances are 9:30 Saturday evening, and 7:30 Sunday evening in Mr. Finn's Cabaret on the lower level of BSC's Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center on Linden Street.
"Love & Take Out" offers an evening of original songs about romance, Chinese food and more, promises Brourman. "It's (named for) one of my songs about sex and Chinese food," she said. "Years ago I was dating somebody -- it was a transitional relationship -- and a friend said, ‘That guy's like Chinese food, and an hour later you'll be hungry again.'
"I said, ‘That's a song!' " Brourman exclaimed trumphantly.
Aside from McBroom, a collaborator on several numbers, Brourman's songs have been recorded by Olivia Newton-John, Cleo Laine, Margaret Whiting, Billy Stritch and Thelma Houston. Her best-known tune, "My Favorite Year," a touching ballad about a long-lost love, was recorded by Michael Feinstein and served as the theme for the television drama, "Santa Barbara," and her music also has been heard on the series "Cagney & Lacey" and "Designing Women."
The dance and incidental score for the Broadway production of Studs Terkel's "Working" also is a product of Brourman's fertile creative mind.
MacRae, who appeared in "My Name Will Always Be Alice," directed at Barrington Stage by Julianne Boyd, the artistic director, enjoys a long association with Brourman. "Heather and I have been friends and worked together since the mid-'70s -- I was her first musical director, and built her first cabaret show," said Brourman. "She recorded a song, ‘Hope Floats,' with Amanda McBroom, and we're going to sing that as a duet."
Another duet, "It's Never Perfect," involves marriage and relationships, observed Brourman, who compared Mac Rae's vocal instrument to that of her celebrated father, Gordon MacRae-- "a voice like molten gold, and Heather has the same quality; it just pulses through her, so gorgeous."
Brourman concedes that food has been very important in the annals of her musical output - "food and love and how they are related. You read about people who do emotional eating when they've lost love." More optimistic, and very romantic, according to the composer, is "Let's Order In," concerning a couple deciding not to go out for dinner.
"And I've written songs about chocolate -- certain topics are hard to resist," she confessed, chuckling.
But she draws her inspiration as well from other personal experiences -- her immigrant grandparents (Hungarian and Rumanian) in "Heart on My Lips" and "The Shirt Upon Her Back."
She has explored politics: " ‘Voter's Prayer' is political in a roundabout way. It's about several candidates we know, and ‘Heart Behind the Wall,' written with Amanda, is a dangerous song," confided Brourman, indicating that we'd have to attend the show to discover the danger.
Brourman said she is eager to get back to Barrington Stage and Mr. Finn's. "I walked down and looked at the room when I was with Amanda, and I'm counting down the days," she said, then making an inquiry about the foliage changes she might see this weekend, as a person who celebrates the autumnal equinox, "the wonderful moments of the year."
She noted that she has never written a song about the phenomenon of autumn. But could she do something special, given the short creative period of some of her musical expressions?
"That's a challenge, and it's possible," she mused.