Tag: Barbra Streisand

REVIEW: MTC Presents BUYER AND CELLAR

Here’s what Barbra keeps in her basement…

By Caitlin McGrane

As the house lights dimmed inside the Fairfax Theatre at the Arts Centre, I leaned over to my mother and whispered, ‘I don’t know anything about Barbra Streisand.’ This remains true, but I am now certainly informed about her basement. As Alex (Ash Flanders) recounts his fictional employment in Barbra Streisand’s basement shopping mall it was thrilling to revel in the affection that playwright Jonathan Tolins clearly has for the superstar singer. The play was warm, heartfelt and gregarious in all the right ways.

Buyer and Cellar

The play opens with Ash giving a brief introduction to the audience about the book that inspired the play (My Passion for Design by Barbra Streisand) and about how Streisand built a shopping mall in the basement of her Malibu home. Ash then becomes Alex and tells the wickedly funny story of how he moved from Disneyland to Streisand, and how Alex’s relationship with his boyfriend Barry is affected by the new job. It’s a true one-man show, and Flanders did a spectacular job of moving seamlessly between the characters with their idiosyncratic accents and mannerisms. As I stated before, I don’t know anything about Barbra Streisand, but Flanders’ impression of her softly lilting voice and affected mannerisms were outrageously funny.

For the most part the play had me in stitches, however, there were several LA references that went completely over my head and it seemed, much of the rest of audience’s as well. This has nothing to do with the delivery, just that the play was written about a particular place with which a local audience is not necessarily familiar. The saturation of American culture certainly helped contextualise the jokes, but specific references to freeways were always going to go over most of our heads. (I would love to see if something similar could be written about Melbourne; maybe Geoffrey Rush has a Pirates of the Caribbean set up in his garage, I don’t know.)

There is clearly so much passion and fondness for Streisand in the script; director Gary Abrahams has ensured the barbs (pardon the pun) are handled just right – carefully toeing that difficult line between gently mocking and barbarous (I’m sorry I can’t stop). Adam Gardnir simply and effectively designed the sets and costumes; while Rachel Burke’s lighting design was beautiful. For a play about such a massively successful musician, there wasn’t much music, however The Sweats’ composition and sound design carefully adorned and enhanced the performance. Finally, Flanders’ numerous accents were so accurate, that it would be deeply remiss not to mention voice and dialogue coach Suzanne Heywood who has clearly done a marvellous job.

It can make me wary when it looks like the cast and crew of a production have had lots of fun assembling and crafting their work, but in this case it was really joyous to see. Buyer and Cellar demonstrates how reverence can work well alongside gentle teasing, especially if the butt of your jokes is a multimillionaire who really does have a shopping mall in her basement.

Buyer and Cellar is showing at the Fairfax Theatre at the Arts Centre until 12 December. Tickets from: http://www.mtc.com.au/plays-and-tickets/mainstage-2015/buyer-and-cellar/

Review: HEY WORLD, HERE I AM – The Streisand Story

Australian artist Avigail Herman celebrates our favourite Funny Girl

By Kate Boston-Smith

 There is no faulting Avigail Herman’s vocal ability and technique. A mainstay of Australian music and theatre, people are more likely to recognize her voice than her name, and it is with this exceptional voice and her tremendous talent that she channels Streisand into the room with us for this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival

Performing in a difficult space, Herman opens her heart through the songs of Barbra Streisand to her audience. Herman is a true professional in every sense of the word. This show is classic and sleek and Herman is as intelligent as she is talented. 

As the show title suggests, she tell stories of Streisand and her 40-year career while flawlessly covering her beloved and expansive body of music, including classics we all know and love to more obscure numbers that are playful and fun.

Lovers and fans of the stage and Hollywood diva will be on the edge of their seat as each song starts, and again when it finishes as there no knowing where Herman is going to take us next on this journey. The Streisand-uninitiated will enjoy learning about this incredible woman, all she has achieved and where she has come from. 

Songs are breath-taking and wonderfully recognizable.  At times I heard audience members singing along, tapping their feet and at one point, holding their beloveds in romantic embraces.

It was a beautiful show, and ideal for those wanting to be transported to a New York cabaret lounge for an hour of the wintery evening.

Performed by Avigail Herman and accompanied by Peter Bailey

Tonight and Sunday 24 July, 9.15pm


Tickets: $38 / $35


The Liber Room next to the South Melbourne Library (opposite Town Hall)