What do you do if you have been a long-time Barbra Streisand fan, but have never had the opportunity (or money) to see her perform live? If you’re the Good Theater’s artistic director, Brian P. Allen, you stage a Streisand revue, and get “Wicked” actress Lesley McKinnell to be your very own “funny girl.”
Friday’s opening night performance of “Happy Days Are Here Again” was a 75-minute evening of reverie and revelry, featuring McKinnell as the singer, Allen as the talker and the Good Theater’s musical director, Victoria Stubbs, as the player.
Allen positively glowed with enthusiasm has he sat in a zebra-print chair, animatedly telling the audience about his love-affair with Streisand’s music, beginning when he was a very young boy in the early 60s.
“My parents consulted a physician because I loved Barbra so much,” Allen told the audience.
He had the audience laughing as he wove entertaining stories of his life in amongst facts about Streisand’s fascinating journey from nightclub performer to movie star. And, he kept the audience amused while McKinnell ducked backstage, playing a few bars of “Pomp and Circumstance” during one of her costume changes.
Allen also chimed in on the immensely funny “Miss Marmelstein” and delivered an amusing duet with McKinnell on “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead.”
Fittingly, McKinnell played the leading role of Glinda in the national tour of “Wicked.”
Backed by Stubbs on piano, McKinnell delivered a captivating 17-song set from Streisand’s 60’s catalog.
The varied set-list included such songs are the passionate “Cry Me A River” and the wonderfully wacky “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf.”
McKinnell seemed to delight in bringing such kooky classics like the tongue-in-cheek “Marty the Martian,” to the stage, sparking hearty laughter from the audience.
It was a real pleasure to see the expressive McKinnell perform in a cabaret-style setting on the Good Theater’s intimate stage. The consummate actress captured the essence of Streisand, while still managing to make the songs her own.
“Happy Days Are Here Again” offers Streisand fans the opportunity to reminisce with Allen about a living legend. His enthusiasm is infectious, and he’s a natural-born comedian who has a knack for finding the humor in any situation.
You don’t have to be head-over-heals in love with Streisand to enjoy “Happy Days Are Here Again.” The set-list is well chosen, beautifully performed and packed with fun. It’s also a great opportunity to see McKinnell before she heads out on the national tour of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ahboyle
What: “Happy Days Are Here Again – Streisand’s 60’s Songbook” by Good Theater
Where: The St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland
Reviewed: April 10; runs through April 26
Contact: 207-885-5883; goodtheater.com