'Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn' review: It's like buttah

Barbra Streisand in PBS' "Great Performances: Barbra Streisand:

Barbra Streisand in PBS' "Great Performances: Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn." (Credit: Russell James/Barwood Films, Ltd.)

THE SHOW "Great Performances -- Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn"

WHEN | WHERE Friday night from 9 to midnight on WNET/13

WHAT IT'S ABOUT "The last time I sang solo here was on somebody's stoop on Pulaski Street," says one of Brooklyn's most famous natives -- now 71 -- before opening this October 2012 concert from Barclays Center with a reworded version of "Sunset Boulevard's" "As If We Never Said Goodbye." From that point, the classics just keep on coming -- from Alan and Marilyn Bergman ("Yentl"), Jimmy Webb, Marvin Hamlisch and Jule Styne. Plus surprises, including a duet with her son, Jason Gould.


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MY SAY There's nothing wrong with "Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn," and for fans, everything's blissfully right. Song choice, presentation and Bill Ross' arrangements are all excellent, and then there's that voice. Smoky, silken, lustrous, absent any shrill spots or sandpaper edges (maybe a fleeting one in lower registers -- which adds to the charm), that's in fine working order, too.

But you should know that "Brooklyn" is also one of those fundraising "events," which means a total of two hours of Babs, one hour of blab. PBS will argue that to get this (or the recent and extraordinary "The Hollow Crown," also "Great Performances"), the money has to come from somewhere. All true, but you decide what your own personal tolerance level is, even for Streisand.

Streisand does arrive on that stage with 50-plus years of history, cultural impact and (above all) legend. She's the one who got most of these songs, all standards, into the Great American Songbook. Plus, Streisand rarely performs. (She forgot some words to a song during a long-ago concert in Central Park, as fans know, and, as she explains again, has battled stage fright ever since.) A few breaks are a small price to pay for this rousing sentimental journey. Unless you'd rather wait to buy the DVD. I'm sure PBS will tell you how to do that, too.

BOTTOM LINE Except for the pledge breaks, it's like buttah in Brooklyn.

GRADE A

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