On PBS last night, the legendary star of Funny Girl was shown in her return to the Village Vanguard.
I’m talking about Lauren Ambrose!
Kidding. It was someone named Babs Streisand.
And she was like butter.
Barbra must have been freaking — live performing makes her as nervous as a little focker — but as she pointed out, “It’s hard to have stage fright with practically no stage.”
The Vanguard happens to be a small, atmospheric boîte filled with misty water-colored memories for the woman who started out there and went on to conquer all media with her pipes, ‘tude, and nails.
Cramped into the place like sardines was a glittery crowd that included celebs like Bill Clinton, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Phyllis Newman (who beat Babs for the Tony way back when), and, of course, silver fox James Brolin.
They watched avidly as Barbra went through a bunch of silky ballads, which she applied her usual exquisite tones to.
There was just one problem.
The array of slow, oozy sounds became monotonous.
We were deprived of the spunky Barbra that we love and instead got borderline schlock like “Here’s to Life” and “If You Go Away” mixed with classics like “My Funny Valentine” and “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” plus two token Streisand hits, the slower-than-molasses “Evergreen” and “The Way We Were.”
Barbra was cozy and charming, but when she cutely raised a deli coffee cup in a toast to the audience, I prayed there was some energy drink in there!