Barbra Streisand loves a challenge.
She is in the midst of writing her autobiography, a process she says she finds difficult, but rewarding. She is excited about now serving as the new chairwoman of the board for the performing arts center planned for the World Trade Center site. And she is still looking for a new film project that she can direct.
But the biggest challenge for Streisand remains performing in public, a test she plans to face once again next month when she reprises last year’s “The Music . . . The Mem’ries . . . The Magic!” tour with two special shows she is calling “The Encore” at NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 4 and Barclays Center on May 6.
“I have to challenge myself to get past my fear,” Streisand said Thursday in an exclusive interview with Newsday about those shows. “But I don’t enjoy being fearful.”
Streisand said these “Encore” shows will be the final tour supporting last year’s chart-topping “Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” album, even though she has had offers to bring the show to Europe and Latin America. “It takes months for me to prepare it — to design what the sets look like, to rehearse,” she said. “It’s a chore for me and I’m not ever going to do that again.”
However, Streisand said she is happy to bring the show to Long Island, considering her last performance here was on Aug. 9, 1963, at the Lido Club in Lido Beach.
“I was from Brooklyn and some of my friends from Brooklyn, their parents made more money and they were able to move to Long Island,” she said. “Long Island was the dream. They moved out and they got a home on Long Island! My god! I thought that was the bees’ knees. It’ll be fun. I like the idea of playing Long Island again after 54 years. . . . It’ll be fun to stand there, you know. Long Island — the place I could never get to as a kid. Better late than never!”
Streisand said she doesn’t spend much time thinking about the past, though. “I don’t like looking back,” she said. “I like being in the present and looking toward the future.”
That remains the case, even though the present often upsets the lifelong Democrat. After White House press secretary Sean Spicer said this week that Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons in the way that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has, ignoring that Jews were killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust, Streisand was among those calling for his resignation on Twitter. “How come he still has a job?” she asked. “What he said was so shocking. He doesn’t have any sense of history.” Spicer later on apologized for his remarks.
Streisand said she recognizes that there can be a backlash when she speaks politically, but she has no plans on stopping. “It’s too important,” she said. “It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than getting customers to come to the concerts. . . . It’s too important to me to say what I feel if I can move one person.”