Review: Barbra Streisand at BST Hyde Park ******
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Review: Barbra Streisand at BST Hyde Park ******

Brigit Grant dispenses with her hardback chair and finds herself enthralled with the American-Jewish icon

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Barbra Streisand performs during Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Hyde Park. Credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
Barbra Streisand performs during Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Hyde Park. Credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

BST Hyde Park has had some extraordinary headliners since it started in 2013. The Rolling Stones, Michael Bublé, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder to name a few and this Friday Bob Dylan will be ‘Freewheelin’ on the main stage.

But when BST announced that Barbra Streisand would be performing, Jewish people who always need a hard back chair to sit on, forgot their ailments and joined 65,000 other fans on Sunday to hang on every word and chord the superstar delivered. And boy did she deliver.

With an entrance heralded by a huge gold italic B on the screen and an overture featuring some of her most memorable songs, the crowd hollered and applauded when she appeared in a glittering pink ensemble designed by Dame Zandra Rhodes.

Sharing the details of her outfit was one of the first things she did, along with commenting on the size of the audience – “So many of you –I’m verklempt” she said and we knew exactly what she meant.

Thankfully she wasn’t too emotional to speak, for over the two-and-a-bit hours she was in our midst, she shared stories about her family and films while showing slides and sipping tea from a floral china cup.

Stills of her directing and then editing Yentl in London lead her to enthusing about the capital, while a shot of her meeting Prince Charles in 1974 unleashed “If I had played my cards right, I could have been the first Jewish princess.”

While ‘the chosen’ in the crowd kvelled at the notion she sang and it was magnificent.

Time has not tainted the voice that touches your soul and at the age of 77 her rendition of Jules Styne’s People makes you cry. It was the same with Send In The Clowns, Sondheim’s Children Will Listen and Evergreen From A Star is Born.

The years have not been as kind vocally to Kris Kristofferson who was one of the support acts, but when he joined her to sing Lost Inside Of You, she covered his cracks, held his hand and we cried again.

“If I had played my cards right, I could have been the first Jewish princess….”

She didn’t need Lionel Richie to sing The Way We Were, but as Robert Redford(Hubbell) wasn’t available what was Katie to do?

Everything Barbra said and sang at Hyde Park illustrated why there will never be anyone like her, a fact stated by Broadway star Ramin Karimloo who dueted with her for Phantom’s Music of The Night.

As a final gift to the audience she brought out her “babies” – three Coton de Tulear dogs Miss Scarlett, Miss Violet and Miss Fanny(Brice).

Barbra Streisand is still that ‘Funny Girl’ with a vocal range and power that belies her years. No one thought about hard back chairs on Sunday as standing is what you do in the presence of greatness.

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