The Loser’s Lounge: Tribute to Barbra Streisand

The Loser’s Lounge

Tribute to Barbra Streisand

Joe’s Pub, NYC, February 2, 2018

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

The idea of the Loser’s Lounge choosing Barbra Streisand as this edition’s commemorated idol might cause trepidation for some. For 25 years, the revue has been synonymous with “downtown” performers and alt/neo-cabaret programming.  Could they pull off an evening that celebrates a performer whose songbook runs the gamut from Broadway to rock to disco to the Great American Songbook and whose vocal placement and phrasing is considered unparalleled?

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The answer therein lies with the love that permeates all of the Loser’s Lounge tributes. Music Director Joe McGinty gathers a collective of performers who, in their own way, truly connect with the material. David Driver fearlessly commanded the stage in “The Woman in the Moon” (Paul Williams/Kenny Ascher), rich in swagger and drive. “Lazy Afternoon” (John Latouche/Jerome Moross) was brilliantly captured both in McGinty’s synth orchestration (expertly conjuring Rupert Holmes’ ’70s aural aesthetic) and Mary Lee Kortes’ long, dreamy phrases.

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Indeed, some performers seemed like your next-door neighbor getting up at karaoke night, but again, their commitment and passion surely made up for any lack of vocal prowess.

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Conversely there were performers whose interpretive abilities and voices made the tribute to Streisand feel complete. Sam Brown, in her duet of “What Kind of Fool” (Barry Gibb/Albhy Galuten), alternated between a breathy stroke and laser-like belt—navigating between the two like a pro. Moreover, Graham Norwood’s falsetto-y “Love Theme from The Eyes of Laura Mars” (“Prisoner”) (Karen Lawrence/John DeSautels) and Blythe Gruda’s pop-belt on “Woman in Love” (Barry Gibb/Robin Gibb) were highlights of the evening.    

But, it was an unexpected “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Jule Styne/Bob Merrill) from Mike Fornatale that was the hit of the night. Perhaps the lovechild of Charles Nelson Reilly and Ed Koch, Fornatale opened his mouth and delivered a pleasingly strident vocal, full of Broadway razzmatazz and bravado—qualities that could easily be applied to Ms.

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Streisand. For those seeking tributes alive with humor and love, the Loser’s Lounge surely delivers in spades (and high notes!

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Randolph B. Eigenbrode

Randolph is the newest addition to the writing staff at Cabaret Scenes. He is a cabaret teacher, previously teaching with legend Erv Raible, and his students have gone on to success in the field with sold-out shows and many awards. He is also a director and that, combined with a knowledge of the art form and techniques that cabaret performing encompasses, makes him love reviewing NYC’s cabaret scene. When not catching the Big Apple’s crazy talent, Randolph loves 1970s variety shows, mall Chinese food, Meryl Streep films and a good cold glass of pinot grigio.