Review: HER NAME IS BARBRA Bursts with Streisand Memories at The Green Room 42

Doesn't everyone want to sing the songs of Barbra Streisand? I guess so.

By: Jun. 04, 2024
Review: HER NAME IS BARBRA Bursts with Streisand Memories at The Green Room 42
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Was the week before Memorial Day declared Barbra Streisand Week in Manhattan with regular gatherings of members of the Streisand Appreciation Society?  It seemed so, with three different cabaret presentations giving loving nods to the legend, as performers sang through her repertoire.  First, there was Kelly Brandeburg’s solo show, My Favorite Barbra, on May 18, at The Green Room 42, reviewed for Broadway World by Analisa Bell – which she called “epic.”  I covered a group show titled To Barbra, with Love at 54 Below on May 23rd. And the next night, back at The Green Room 42, I covered yet another Barbra tribute, again a group show.  This one was titled Her Name Is Barbra. All three events included “The Way We Were” — which I’d also heard earlier in the month at that venue, sung by Hannah Jane actually taking on the role of superstar Streisand in the staged reading of the bio-musical about its composer, Marvin Hamlisch.  To quote its lyric by the Bergmans, “Memories light the corners of my mind,” as these events make me remember the pleasures of first encounters with the albums and the movies and the TV specials, other tribute shows (and seeing the genuine article in concert at Madison Square Garden). 

Tate McElhaney, an unabashed devotee, produced and hosted Her Name Is Barbra, taking his own turn to solo strongly with a committed rendition of “Being Good Isn’t Good Enough,” a number from the 1967 musical Hallelujah, Baby! It had been recorded by Barbra Streisand many years ago, but wasn’t issued until 2012. She later added it to her concert repertoire. Our host’s sister, Savannah McElhaney, was on the bill, scoring with a lovely version of “A Sleepin’ Bee.” The touching ballad goes way back to the beginning of Streisand's career, her own performance of it being one of the songs won her first prize ($50 and a booking) in a talent contest at a Greenwich Village bar when she was 18.  She kept it in her set and had it as the final track of her first album. 

Perhaps surprisingly, there were no selections from the two musicals Barbra Streisand was in on Broadway, which brought her stardom: I Can Get It for You Wholesale and Funny Girl. However, we did get one of the numbers added to the movie version of the latter: its title song, sensitively interpreted by Sarah Pansing, who also dazzled belting to the rafters when the night ended by turning to the score of the film Yentl.  Another major highlight was a song introduced in the short-lived Broadway musical Drat! The Cat! by its leading man, Elliott Gould, who’d also been the star of ….Wholesale and married Barbra. The song was written for his character at the point he realizes that a woman he’s attracted to seems to feel the same way.  “She Touched Me” had been changed to “He Touched Me” for Barbra, but Mia Kaplan kept the original female pronouns in the lyric.  She was a wow — truly radiant as someone feels “such a wonderful drive toward valentining.”

Charismatic Antonio Cipriano made “Evergreen” his own and Matthew Saroyan boldly strutted through “How Lucky Can You Get” and seethed with fierce emotion.  It was Julia Yameen’s turn to mesmerize with memories, taking on the title tune of The Way We Were.  

Pianist Matt Levinstein led the small band for Her Name Is Barbra and the musicians seemed equally at home with all genres, from the warm standards like “For All We Know,” sung by the polished John Collins, to the hot numbers. The sound system seemed to be giving more volume and echo than necessary sometimes for the vocalists whose voices could easily fill the room with less technological assistance.  There was a lot of belting in the show, but the performers had the lung power and panache to carry it off, including those who took on the pop, rock, and disco numbers that were essayed by the lady whose “name is Barbra.”

Find more upcoming shows at the Green Room 42 on their website.


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