The American Pops Orchestra
Don’t Rain on My Parade:
75 Years of Streisand
Lisner Auditorium, Washington, D.C., January 13, 2017
Reviewed by Michael Miyazaki for Cabaret Scenes
The American Pops Orchestra presented an entertaining, audience-pleasing tribute to Barbra Streisand’s musical work. Under the baton of Luke Frazer, it was a rare luxury to hear the 28-piece ensemble as they conveyed many styles of popular music, whether in lush, string-heavy arrangements, bluesy works with an emphasis on horns, or more rocking rhythms. There was particularly nice solo work by harpist Kate Rogers (an exquisite “The Way We Were”), pianist Alex Tang, and trumpeter Brian Tunmire.
The American Pops brought in a number of bright-wattage guest artists to handle vocal duties. Lindsay Mendez opened the show with a bright, brassy medley of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “Before the Parade Passes By” that had the audience cheering during her ride-out; she also had an affecting “(Have I Stayed) Too Long at the Fair.” Other highlights include: Laura Osnes wry (and in longish palazzo pants) on “Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long”; Amber Iman’s powerful take on “Cry Me a River”; and Will & Anthony Nunziata soaring on “New York State of Mind” and a heartfelt “Get Happy”/”Happy Days Are Here Again” duet. Lucia Spina did a remarkable job of making “When in Rome (I Do as the Romans Do)” sound personal and fresh, while even including the Italian patter Streisand incorporated in her recording. She also provided a haunting rendition of “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”
Fran Drescher served as a charming, funny hostess, and the stories of her interactions with Streisand made us feel a personal connection to the legend.