“Well, she really likes Barbra Streisand…”
My friend Piera told her dad when he asked about the person she was visiting.
I am the youngest person I have ever met who enjoys Barbra Streisand to the degree that I do. Some people around my age inform me they enjoy her voice, but many have never heard of her.The other ones who have heard of her are simply familiar with the character of “Mecha-Streisand” in South Park. These sort of Streisandaphobes have let popular culture influence their opinion on my dear Babs. The truth is I have pretty old school tastes when it comes to music and I often feel a lot older when people play music “the kids these days” listen to. I had to specifically request that we “not listen to Derpsterp” (my word for dubstep) the other day while hanging out with a group.I grew up performing with various youth groups, inside and outside of school. Often I was around a bunch of other kids who had ranging obsessions with Musical Theatre. Some of them knew who she was and liked her.
If you didn’t know already, Barbra Streisand was a Broadway actress before she did movies. She first played Miss Marmelstein in I can get it for you wholesale. This led to the role that would change her career in Funny Girl. It is a musical about Fanny Brice, the first “ugly” girl in the Ziegfield Follies.
Now I have to explain what that is.. The Ziegfield Follies were huge revues on Broadway that ran for over-twenty years during the early 1900s. They often featured beautiful women and fanciful costumes. Fanny Brice, I actually find rather beautiful, but she was not the classic beauty of time, became sort of the “comic relief” during some of the early years of the show. When Funny Girl was being cast, they were originally going to cast another actress for the role of Fanny, but she was not a singer and planned to talk sing the songs. I can’t remember who, I heard the story long ago, but the person writing the songs
was very upset about their songs be talk-sung and wrote the songs as very difficult to sing. This is when Barbra was brought in. After the show ran it was made into a film that Barbra Streisand won an Oscar for. This was her big break, and from there she went to make many albums (I own almost every album she released on vinyl.) direct, produce, and star in numerous films. She is a fucking legend and badass multi-talented woman.
My interest in theatre led me to audition for Drama Program a local Junior High School provided (Audition for Junior high, what the fuck? I know. I know.). Meaning twice a week I got to take a double period class of theatre. It was pretty incredible, I learned all about Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams(A playwright), Playwrighting, and lots more. I believe I retained the information from that class more than any other class I took during my NYC public school experience.
For my audition into that program I had to do a monologue. I did a monologue Lucy doesin the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”.
The monologue was about how Lucy was going to be Queen someday. At some point she talks about how she will shout out to the crowds and my parents recommended I put in the line “I’m the greatest star I am by far, but no one knows it.” They had no idea where they remembered it from, until we looked it up, turned out it was from Funny Girl. We watched it, I liked it, I forgot about it. Later on they bought me the CD from the Broadway show and there was no turning back I loved Barbra Streisand. I was already hooked on showtunes at that point, I would sing Annie at top of my lungs in the living room.
In 7th grade a friend introduced me to the movie Chicago, that was added, and musicals just kept coming. I was obsessed. I was mocked.
I can recall a boy who sat at my table saying “Hey, what bands do you like? Oh yea, you don’t you like Barbra Streisand!” That kid is really short and people often thought he was a jerk. Barbra Karma for the win. He also enjoyed chanting “Showtunes Suck” at me. At that point I carried the little CD- case booklets from shows like Rent, Wicked, Hairspray (I now believe I have far more sophisticated tastes in musicals, those shows are quite obnoxious, but they still hold places in my heart… I will probably write more on that later.) I was in drama and some girls I hung out with were in chorus, they liked to tell me that I couldn’t sing. I know that is fucking bullshit. I may not be amazing, but I can sing my ass off.
I never gave up on Barbra and musicals. I auditioned for musicals in high school, but favoritism is alive and well in arts-focused high schools and I was a terrible dancer and a bit shy.
I’ve seen Barbra in concert twice, I remember the most thrilling moment when she ran towards my nose-bleed seats to the right side of the stage during her finale as she sang the Broadway show version of “Don’t rain on my parade(Reprise)” I held binoculars up and cried. I was thirteen, probably one of the youngest people there.
It’s a lonely world, loving Barbra at my age. Plenty of people like musicals, but not the way that I do. I listen to them all the way through, choreograph them in my head, learn to sing high and low so I can play all the roles, think about the characters, become the characters. Study the format of amusical, trends in musicals. I’m hooked, addicted, mad with enthusiasm. I’ve been working on a straight play for months now, I’ve decided to turn it into a musical, I have one song written.
A couple of years back I thought I was cool for a minute. People I knew all seemed to know the song “Anything Goes” and seemed to be listening to these jazzy songs I like. I really enjoy Ella Fitzgerald, as she covers a lot of Cole Porter songs. He was a showtunes composer. Then I realized everyone had no concept of the history of that music, they were just playing the video game Fallout 3. The soundtrack from that game features old school songs. I will never be cool.
Even though I took flack, and got called weird, I now know it’s my secret power. No one can ever take that away from me.
It makes me alive.