"I don't DO her," explains actor Michael Urie, pretending to be defensive about comparisons between his Barbra Streisand imitation in "Buyer & Cellar" and those by people who have made her their life's work. He also adds this self-protective disclaimer: "What I'm going to tell you could not possibly have happened with a person as famous, talented and litigious as Barbra Streisand."
But one thing is true about "Buyer & Cellar," Jonathan Tolins' solo play that had a celebrated limited run last spring and has settled in now at the Barrow Street Theatre. The 95-minute quasi-fact-based fiction is every bit as clever, original and lovable as you may have heard.
Inspired -- and that is the right word -- by Streisand's preposterously detailed 2010 coffee-table book, "My Passion for Design," Tolins imagines how a struggling L.A. actor might be hired to work in the shopping mall in her basement.
No joke, Streisand built what she calls an underground "street" of shops to display her vast collections of dolls, costumes and items suitable to a "gift shoppe." She is the only customer and nothing is really for sale.
And Urie (of "Ugly Betty" and much good theater) wondrously morphs, with just a slight shift of attitude, from the actor to his complicated customer, not to mention his boyfriend, her house manager and her husband, James Brolin. Commentary about our star-struck commodity-culture is quick, just cutting enough and delightfully well-informed.
WHAT "Buyer & Cellar"
BOTTOM LINE Michael Urie as bizarre, delightful salesman