Tuesday, December 25, 2007

broadway boys & miss streisand

from broadwayworld.com July 23, 2007

Michael Arden: "It's an unusual thing to be introduced to someone so deep into their career. This is how I felt coming to this experience. Having only really seen Barbra in Meet the Fockers, I envisioned a sex therapist who loved wearing long skirts and climbing on top of her co-stars. A remarkable thing happened in Berlin at the concert. The company surprised her with a gift of a beautiful piece of music played at her wedding, as a anniversary present to her and Jim. She was truly moved and surprised by this. I was struck by not only her love for fine music, but for her husband. She then went on to sing 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers,' a song which has become my favorite of the concert. She seemed to be catapulted, during the show in Berlin, into every nuance of terror, pain, memory of joy and of sorrow the song spoke of. The song became dangerous. It became for that one moment a confession of something so close to the bone, that it felt like we perhaps shouldn't be allowed to watch someone say it. Her connection to the material as an actress had me dumbfounded, and more importantly, had HER dumbfounded. I saw a star like none before ignite again, some fifty plus years later and I completely understood who I was working with and what an opportunity it was to be doing this concert tour. Singing with a weapon of such grace on a stage in Berlin originally built by HITLER and sending a message of peace, tolerance and love, three things that resonate through everything she does, through incredible music. I said a silent 'thank you' for being so lucky and so truly blessed."

Hugh Panaro: "In Dreamgirls, Curtis sings to Dina, 'When I first saw you... I said Oh my that's a dream.' Well, when I first saw Barbra on the first day of rehearsal in Zurich I said ( I think it was to Peter Lockyer) 'Wow, she's beautiful!' Then of course I realized it was BARBRA F*** ing STREISAND!!!! And she's cute. I know it's not a word that you would ever think of using in describing her but she IS cute. I loved that she had her glasses on and very little makeup and was there not to be 'Barbra Streisand' but to work. She said hi to all the musicians that had done the last tour, hugged Bill Ross, the incredible conductor and greeted her new 'boys' warmly. And then she sang---with us! WOW. I was and am still blown away by her 'ear,' incredible pitch and her musicality. There is no need to 'tweak' Barbra in a studio, she is the real deal. But what really blew me away is how giving she is onstage, a great scene partner if you will. And of course without even trying , she is a funny girl. In Vienna, during our 'sound check,' a huge dark cloud loomed toward the stage as we were singing (appropriately enough) 'Something's Coming' from West Side Story. Then came a wind that blew every chair over (that had been set up for the outdoor venue) like a child's set of dominos. Rain, thunder and lightning soon followed. Dust and grit flew into our eyes and mouths, sheet music blew away, instruments were soaked, electric 'rigging' and huge LED screens swayed overhead as everyone was evacuated to safety inside the Palace. As I was drying off outside my dressing room, I saw Barbra and told her everything that had just happened, and without missing a beat she asked, 'But was the sound good?'"

Sean McDermott: "When I walked downstage to sing with her, at the first rehearsal in Zurich, I couldn't believe I was actually on stage with Barbra Streisand. When I took her hand and looked in to those blue eyes, I swear my heart skipped a beat. Later that week at a performance with the crowd cheering each and every song, I realized that she is one of the greatest stars our lifetime has ever seen. I've learned so much working with her and watching her on stage. Every city is so different, but every audience has been great, even those poor people caught in the storm in Vienna - they came back just as strong the next night. You can't ever imagine what it's like to be in front of thousands of people and you're singing with Barbra Streisand. You don't get that kind of response, even on Broadway. The people are great and very appreciative of us (the guys), as well. We've had enthusiastic applause for our section of the show, even our own ovations, and in Paris, I even got recognized in a restaurant after the show, having dinner with my family. What else can I say? This really is a dream come true."

Peter Lockyer: "First of all, the quality of the shows is something that I never dreamed I would be a part of. The sound design, stage design, orchestrations never mind the actual, amazing orchestra, musical direction and the direction, all combine to form a truly complete concert experience. That sounds like a soundbite, but it really is true. As far as actually performing with Barbra, she is incredible and sounds fantastic. Also, it is amazing to feel the energy of how much her fans love her. When we see and hear the reaction of the audience after 'Somewhere,' it is downright deafening. Barbra allows herself to be amazingly vulnerable onstage and I think that is one of the things that make her performances so immediate. When she sings, we all feel what she feels because of that vulnerability. So, it is truly fascinating to come downstage singing my line in 'Evergreen' (our first song with her) and connect with her famous eyes only to see the girl inside. Does that make sense? I guess what surprises me is that she has been able to keep her ability to be affected by the people and circumstances that surround her at a given moment. Because of this, she responds organically and creates an artistic experience that is unique to every situation. I think that even after our first rehearsal with Barbra my first thought was, 'Okay, I know that I have always appreciated Barbra Streisand’s talent but after meeting her and watching her rehearse, my appreciation has only deepened.' I love the way she will sing a song differently every time and change notes and rhythms depending upon how she feels that day and what is affecting her: Truly, I am a fan."

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