Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: A Super Fan Takes on Babs

By Michael Block

Rufus did Judy at Carnegie Hall now Blake is doing Barbra at the Laurie Beechman. In a return engagement, Blake McIver pays homage to Barbra Streisand in Blake Sings Barbra. A classic and simply stated evening of music and story, McIver humbly showcases his talents.
photo by Michael Block
Barbra Streisand is an icon to all, especially in the gay community. Best known for her roles on stage and screen, Streisand returned to the live performance world in 1994 with “The Concert.” And that's the basis of Blake McIver's solo cabaret. Bringing tales of his life in the year of the concert, McIver offers parallels to the stories Streisand told as well as bringing everything full circle to today. A beautiful homage presented by a super fan, Blake Sings Barbra is more than just a tribute to “the greatest star.” McIver brings a unique spin to many of the standards yet maintains integrity. There’s a humbleness to McIver’s performance, especially as her talks of his idol. It’s delicate, yet confident. Even when he jokes about having AOSD, or acute obsessive Streisand disorder, there’s a bashful charm about him. As he dives into some more personal anecdotes, he’s able to pull from within to give an emotionally riveting performance. Blake Sings Barbra is more than a beat by beat recount of the concert. It's evident he's done his homework when he unleashes a trio with Barbra and, well, Barbra. Director Mary Lane Haskell guides McIver on a well-rounded journey through song and patter, helping the evening move in a streamlined manner. Incorporating video from the concert into the show, those few audience members who may not have worn out their VHS copies can feel as if they know the inside jokes. Even if you didn’t know the setlist from the original concert, McIver walks you through why each song was included and how Streisand related to each number.
McIver has nestled himself into the world of Barbra Streisand to provide a beautiful product. Many artists have done their own tributes to Babs but there’s something distinctively special about Blake Sings Barbra. Thankfully the show will return once again to New York later to this fall.