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by Michael Portantiere

Hello, Gorgeous!

  • Streisand-edit.jpg

    As you may have heard, Barbra Streisand will soon return to the borough of her birth, Brooklyn, to give two concerts in the brand new Barclays Center. If you're a big Barbra fan but you can't attend for one reason or another, or even if you can attend, you'll want to know about Hello, Gorgeous! A Salute to the Streisand Songbook. Slated for the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College at 8pm on Friday evening, October 12, which happens to be the night between Barbra's two shows across the river, this benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS will offer such artists as Ann Hampton Callaway, Lorna Luft, Tituss Burgess, Nick Adams, Ashley Brown, and Streisand impressionist Steven Brinberg in an evening of songs that Barbra has made famous over the decades. Scott Nevins, who's producing the event, told me how it all came about and what audience members can expect.


    BROADWAYSTARS: What a great idea to salute the Streisand songbook while Barbra's performing in town. When did you have this brainstorm?

    SCOTT NEVINS: I was driving back from a gig in Washington, D.C. with my friend Joe, and Barbra came up on his iPod a few times. I thought, "God, she's so brilliant." I know so many people who love her but can't go to see her in Brooklyn. I thought it would be fun to do something on the night between her concerts, so the fans can get together and celebrate the music. It was obvious to me that it should be a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, because I think Barbra and Broadway walk hand in hand.

    STARS: How did you go about corralling the performers?

    SCOTT: I thought it might be difficult because our event is on a Friday night, when a lot of people are doing shows. But I started calling around, and I've never in my life received quicker responses for any show I've put together. Everyone I called said, "I want to do this!" The enthusiasm has been so great.

    STARS: It's quite a cast list. Ann Hampton Callaway has written for Barbra...

    SCOTT: Yes! Ann and I met because I've been working as the new host and spokesperson for RSVP vacations, and for two of the cruises, she was our headliner. She told me about writing Barbra's wedding song, "I Dreamed of You," and she had lots of other great stories. So I asked her to do our tribute, and she said, "Of course!" Then I called Lorna [Luft] and told her my idea. I said, "You have this amazing connection with Barbra because she sang with your mother on her TV show and you were in the audience, and you grew up loving Barbra, and you're friendly with her..." She said, "Sign me up!"

    STARS: You have some other wonderful performers on the bill, like the lovely Ashley Brown.

    SCOTT: We had already sent out a press release when we heard from Ashley's manager. He said, "You know, Ashley just did a tour of Marvin Hamlisch music," which of course included a lot of Barbra stuff. He asked if we'd be interested in Ashley joining us, so that's how we got her.

    STARS: You also have the lovely Nick Adams.

    SCOTT: Nick will definitely be a crowd pleaser, I can tell you that much. I'm so glad he got to star in Priscilla, because I've been screaming for years about how he's more than just a beautiful guy with a great body. He's so talented, and he's got a gorgeous singing voice. People finally got to see and hear that in Priscilla. For our show, we've picked a number that will let him have a lot of fun and also show off the pipes.

    STARS: Will the show have any sort of through-line or concept other than being a tribute to Barbra and her music?

    SCOTT: It's sort of a retrospective, because we're going to start with the earlier songs and build all the way to the present. We've tried to place each guest star in the order according to how Barbra's sound and her repertoire changed over the years.

    STARS: It's worth noting that your tickets are priced at $25, $65, and $125 for premium seating and the after party. Even the top level is a tiny fraction of the prices for Barbra at the Barclays Center.

    SCOTT: [Laughs] Exactly! It was very important to me that we set all of the balcony seats at $25, so everybody who loves Barbra can afford to be with us. I also wanted our show to be accessible to really young kids who are coming up in the business and who worship Barbra. Our $25 tickets are cheaper than some of the student rush tickets for Broadway shows. And the Kaye Playhouse is a wonderful space with not a bad seat in the house.

    STARS: It sounds like it's going to be a memorable evening.

    SCOTT: Thanks. I can't give it away, but we have a few really exciting things that Ann and Lorna are going to do in the show.

    STARS: Well, I'll bet I can guess what one of them is.

    SCOTT: I think any self respecting gay man can guess what one of them is!


    [For more information about Hello, Gorgeous! and/or to purchase tickets, click here.]

    Published on Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Michael Portantiere has more than 30 years' experience as an editor and writer for TheaterMania.com, InTHEATER magazine, and BACK STAGE. He has interviewed theater notables for NPR.org, PLAYBILL, STAGEBILL, and OPERA NEWS, and has written notes for several cast albums. Michael is co-author of FORBIDDEN BROADWAY: BEHIND THE MYLAR CURTAIN, published in 2008 by Hal Leonard/Applause. Additionally, he is a professional photographer whose pictures have been published by THE NEW YORK TIMES, the DAILY NEWS, and several major websites. (Visit www.followspotphoto.com for more information.) He can be reached at [email protected]

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