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Simply Barbra (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Slick, polished and professional: that would fit Ms Barbra Streisand, and also Steven Brinberg’s wicked impersonation of her. Using her vocal style and mannerisms, if not quite the vocal range, Brinberg brings the feel of an intimate concert with the lady herself to the stage.

From the opening number until the final curtain, Brinberg is scarily accurate in capturing the idiosyncrasies of the famous lady. His vocals can be spot-on as a direct impersonation, but at times it slips into something that is more caricature than character.

Interspersing the songs with dialogue in Streisand's own style, with comments about places she has been, her husband and family, and concerts and films she has acted in, the evening passes quickly and entertainingly.

Brinberg is superbly supported by Nathan Martin as Musical Director and piano player, who also shows himself to have a fine voice when he duets a number from the musical Nine with Brinberg. As the star of the show puts it: he acts as the full 68 piece orchestra 'she' is used to.

Brinberg also brings on a young performer from White ChristmasMatthew Cheney – for a duet of "Over The Rainbow" a la Streisand, showing that Cheney is definitely a talent to watch for.

However the evening truly comes alive when Brinberg as Streisand impersonates a series of other singers all of whom have recorded the track Alfie. His Cher is stunningly accurate, and his take on Lena Horne and Bette Davis are both realistic. It's the man's take on Eartha Kitt though that brings the house down.

This is followed by a very entertaining version of "Don't Tell Mama" from Cabaret as sung by Katherine Hepburn and Julie Andrews. The section is completed with Brinberg singing both parts of the You Don't Bring me Flowers duet – a truly surreal experience.

Overall this is a fun evening's entertainment, but I'm afraid that the real Barbra still has the edge.

- Helen Jones


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