In my career interpreting Barbra Streisand, the questions I get asked most often are: "Have you ever met her?" and "What does she think of your show?" The answers are: no, and I have no idea. But I've come closer than ever to meeting Ms. Streisand. During my Australian tour, which happened to coincide with Barbra's, I made front-page news and was asked to review her concert for the Sydney Morning Herald. And, of course, I was present for both of Barbra's farewell performances at Madison Square Garden. Lately, I've been wondering what it would be like to actually interview her, and I think it might go something like this...
STEVEN: You seldom grant interviews. Why me?
"BARBRA": Well, y'know, I saw you on TV in Sydney, and you were so thin.
"BARBRA": Yeah. Everyone I've ever seen "do" me looks like a big guy in a dress. You looked good. And, of course, you really sing. How do you get your voice like that?
STEVEN: I don't know, really. I've been listening to you all my life. Has your husband heard all of your albums?
"BARBRA": Not yet. I'm doling them out to him in order of my preference. We'll probably get to Butterfly in 2026.
STEVEN: I've heard that Cher is going to play the title role in the TV version of Mame that you're going to produce. What about James Brolin as Beuaregard?
"BARBRA": I can't really talk about that yet. I have a lot of people in mind for the project; he'll have to audition like everyone else. I'd like Joan Cusack for Gooch, Burt Reynolds and Debbie Reynolds for the Upsons, Kristin Chenoweth for Gloria Upson, Liza or Bette or Patti as Vera, and that kid from The Sixth Sense as the nephew.
STEVEN: You haven't made a musical since Yentl.
"BARBRA": Well, it's a lot of work. Y'know?
STEVEN: You left Broadway for good after Funny Girl. Are there other musicals you might have done if you'd stuck with the theater?
"BARBRA": Yeah. Annie.
STEVEN: As Miss Hannigan?
"BARBRA": No, as Annie. We could call it Ann. She grew up and moved to Brooklyn...
STEVEN: In my show, I sing a song called "In Brolin's Eyes" to the tune of "In Buddy's Eyes" from Stephen Sondheim's Follies, and Sondheim himself gave me some suggestions for the lyrics. Didn't he change some of his lyrics for you?
"BARBRA": Oh, yeah. Most people do.
STEVEN: You know, I performed as you in a big tribute to Sondheim at the Library of Congress. I've also performed as you with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Do they ever ask you to appear in these events?
"BARBRA": Not anymore! That's why it's great to have you to fill in. I also like your other voices. I mean, nobody else does Betty Buckley! What you do is really, to quote the old saying, the sincerest form of flattery. People aren't imitated unless they're special.
STEVEN: It would be great to see you on the big screen again. Is it true that Woody Allen wanted you for his movie Small Time Crooks?
"BARBRA": Yes, and I wanted to do it, but the timing wasn't right. I was building a new house or something.
STEVEN: So he got Tracey Ullman instead.
"BARBRA": Yeah. She kinda looked like me in it, too.
STEVEN: Will we ever get to see the rest of your movie On a Clear Day You Can See Forever?
"BARBRA": The rest?
STEVEN: The 45 minutes that were cut just prior to release, including the song "Wait Till We're 65." I've heard a tape of that number; it sounds like you and Larry Blyden do a dance break.
"BARBRA": Well, Hollywood is funny about lost footage. Maybe Liza Minnelli has it; her fabulous father directed the movie. I wasn't directing then--not officially.
STEVEN: You could always re-record "Wait Till We're 65" for another Broadway album.
"BARBRA": There are so many songs I never got to that I may still get to. I loved your version of me doing the "Moo Cow" number from Gypsy.
STEVEN: Thanks. I really love shrieking "Gotta moo!" at the end.
"BARBRA": I'm afraid I've gotta shriek "Gotta moo!" right now, Steve. I have a meeting...
STEVEN: Okay. Thank you, Barbra. You have my number if you come across any gowns that are not going into your next auction.
[Steven Brinberg's next appearances in New York will be in a gala benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, co-starring Jim Caruso and special guests, at Ellen's Stardust Diner on Friday and Saturday, November 17 and 18, at 11 pm; phone 212-353-7778 for reservations. You can also catch his solo act at Arci's Place on Sundays, December 10 and 17, at 8 pm; phone 212-532-4370 for information.]
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