Brief Encounter With … Simply Barbra (aka Steve Brinberg)
Date: 6 November 2009
US born Steve Brinberg makes a living out of performing as someone else; the legendary Barbra Streisand. With Babs' new album "Love Is The Answer" currently on sale, and her recent interview with Jonathan Ross gaining huge ratings, what better time to catch up with Simply Barbra, the affectionately performed act that is so good, even Ms Streisand herself approves. We caught up with Steve before his 'one night only' performance at the Lowry in Salford in December.
How did you start out as performer?
I have tapes of myself at 2 singing...but I didn't really start performing until college. Didn't even realise I could sing..I had always sung along to recordings..in the voice of the person I was singing as!
What gave you the idea to base an act on Barbra Streisand?
I had been doing a cabaret as myself and within that act I did snippets of other voices..Cher, Katharine Hepburn, Julie Andrews etc. Barbra was one of them..and proved so popular that the owner of the club suggested I do a whole act as her. I was reluctant..not knowing anything about makeup and such but I figured I'd try it for a few weeks and see where it went......that was in the 90's!!
What does Ms Streisand herself think of your show?
For years I had heard that she had seen me on TV, watched videos etc. but it was confirmed one year ago when her manager hired me to sing at her best friend Donna Karan's birthday party....through her stage director she actually gave me some lines to say and everything. So it's great to have her seal of approval.
Do you have a favourite song on the new album and why?
My favorite song on the new album is "Here's To Life." I remember when it was first recorded (in 1992 by Shirley Horn) it was a favorite of a dear friend, who passed away soon after. It's very emotional on many levels. And Barbra sings it beautifully. Some people don't know that the composer Artie Butler also wrote the theme song to her film For Pete's Sake which I've also performed and which Barbra never released as a record. That song is a bouncy little thing..Artie has quite a range...and so does Barbra!
What do you like about performing in the UK?
Well it's great just to spend time there...I have a lot of friends in the UK now. And any chance to see theatre is exciting..as well as cities I have never seen or performed in before. And of course sticky toffee pudding and Yorkshire pudding are my favorites unavailable in any edible form in the US!
How do audiences here differ from those in the US?
Contrary to popular belief I think the UK audiences are actually MORE demonstrative than at home. Perhaps because Barbra is more revered there than at home or something. I did a show in Pennsylvania recently and someone in the crowd after said they were reticent about laughing at my humor cause of the staid room etc. In the UK people laugh with abandon.
What are you doing for Christmas?
What most Jews including Barbra do: going to the movies and having Chinese food!
What have you got lined up next after the tour?
Coming up so far in 2010 are dates in Florida, Chicago, Indianapolis....another concert with Marvin Hamlisch (in Connecticut) and some more Australian dates. And hopefully later on, some more in my beloved UK!
Steve Brinberg was speaking to Glenn Meads
Simply Barbra is at the Lowry on Sun, 6th December. For more details, visit the Lowry website
or Steve Brinberg's website
- by Glenn Meads