Don't Rain On My Parade: 75 Years of Barbra Streisand
Believe it or not, the timeless Barbra Streisand will turn 75 this year. With over 145 million global record sales, her icon status was cemented nearly six decades ago after she first took the stage as an opening act for comedy legend Phyllis Diller.
Babs' voice is no doubt what rocketed her into fame, but of course, if an artist is only as good as the songs she sings, well, then Streisand has that going for her, too. In celebration of the music for which we know and love her, the American Pops Orchestra (APO), under the lead of music director and conductor Luke Frazier, recently paid homage to Barbra with a one-off show entitled "Don't Rain On My Parade: 75 Years of Streisand," at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium.
In a setting befitting of the diva herself, Broadway stars Lindsay Mendez ("Wicked," "Godspell"), Amber Iman ("Soul Doctor," "Shuffle Along"), Laura Osnes (Rodgers + Hammerstein's "Cinderella," "Bonnie and Clyde," "Bandstand"), Lucia Spina ("Legally Blonde," "Les Miserables"), Bayla Whitten ("Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris"), and singing/comedy brother duo Will & Anthony Nunziata performed hit after hit with the help of the APO.
Hosted by the incomparable Fran Drescher, the evening was filled with songs like "Sam, You Made The Pants Too Long," "Papa Can You Hear Me," "What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life," and of course, "Don't Rain on My Parade" -- spanning the entirety of Streisand's illustrious career and showcasing her masterful range of style and substance.
Drescher, long known for her role as Nanny Fine (a woman who was not shy about her fanaticism for Babs) on TV's "The Nanny," proved herself a gracious master of ceremonies, plying the audience with self-deprecating jokes between acts, and plugging both her charitable cause, the Cancer Schmancer Movement, and Streisand's decades of work raising awareness for women's heart health (and she looked damn fabulous doing it, too).
One particularly moving moment came when the APO delivered a striking instrumental version of "The Way We Were" featuring a solo by harpist Kate Rogers that couldn't have been more perfect had Streisand been there to perform it herself (okay, maybe that would have made it a little more perfect).
The audience was later brought to their feet as all the performers came together to close out the show with a knock-out cover of Streisand's signature "People" from the 1964 musical "Funny Girl." Clearly, Barbra's in a class by herself, but the talented vocalists celebrating her standards that night were a bright, beautiful way to honor a woman who has contributed so much to the soundtrack of our lives.
"Don't Rain on My Parade: 75 Years of Streisand" was presented on January 13 by The American Pops Orchestra under the direction of Luke Frazier, at the at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St NW, Washington, DC 20052. Look for more featured events and concerts -- including free lunchtime shows every third Thursday of the month at 945 G St NW -- at http://theamericanpops.org/.