Sunday, April 13, 2008

Barbra: The Way She Could Have Been

Barbra Joan Streisand. I love her. LOVE HER! She's the voice of the century. A Triple Crown winner, having garnered an Oscar, Grammy and an Emmy (a Quadruple Crown winner if you count her honorary Tony Award). In short, Barbra Streisand kicks ass!

James & Sharon Owens as Barbra: Hello Gorgeous! (04/13/2008)
James & Sharon Owens as Barbra: Hello Gorgeous! (04/13/2008)

Yet few artists have the ability to annoy me like Barbra. Unlike young Barbra in the early '60s, today's Barbra takes herself way too seriously. She never really relaxes, at least in front of the camera. Watching interviews with her is uncomfortable. (Even watching Ellen interview her was agonizing.) But when I heard acclaimed Barbra-impersonator Sharon Owens was in town, I figured it would be a good opportunity to see Barbra the way she was.

Sharon Owens as Barbra Streisand.
Sharon Owens as Barbra Streisand.

I had seen Sharon Owens do her Barbra tribute on the little-watched Fox reality show called, "Performing As," which ran for seven episodes in 2003. Although the show itself was forgettable, Sharon's performances as Barbra were anything but. She looked, sounded and moved just like the real Barbra. It was incredible.

Flash forward a couple of years and Sharon is now co-headlining a show called Barbra & Frank, The Concert That Never Was, which can be seen at the Riviera in Las Vegas. But for one night only the show came to the Carpenter Center for Performing Arts in Long Beach. Although Sebastian Anzaldo's take on Frank Sinatra was quite good, make no mistake about it, we were there to see Sharon's Barbra.

Sharon Owens looks, sounds and moves just like the real Barbra Streisand.
Sharon Owens looks, sounds and moves just like the real Barbra Streisand.

And she did not disappoint. Her versions of Barbra's hits were superb. But what I found most impressive was how she did something that the real Barbra struggles to do: Have fun while interacting with the audience. You'd never see the real Streisand take a wireless microphone and venture into the audience to sing, jabber and joke around with the crowd.

During the show, I came to the realization that Sharon Owens doesn't really do Barbra the way she was. Nor does she do Barbra the way she is now. Rather, Sharon's version is a combination of both: She looks and sings like the Barbra of today, but retains the fun sense of humor of young Barbra. It's actually Barbra the way she could have been.

Sharon Owens' Barbra tribute is spectacular.
Sharon Owens' Barbra tribute is spectacular.

That's not to say that I'm giving up on the real Barbra. Hardly the case. But if you want a Barbra experience that's good, fun and doesn't cost $350 a seat, I highly recommend catching Sharon Owens' tribute to Barbra Streisand.

1 comment:

beastandbean said...

So sad that your Libertarian ass has let politics come between you and the real Barbra. Ha!

Owens looks pretty awesome though, wish I coulda been there with you to hear her "buttah" smooth grooves...