Barbra Streisand says it was a long, challenging road to get her back to performing on Long Island for the first time in 54 years.
“I don’t love live performances,” Streisand said, calling from her Malibu home. “I did when I was 18 years old. It’s kind of frightening singing in front of thousands of people. It’s exhilarating . . . [But] I’m a very private person and kind of lazy.”
Of course, Streisand’s definition of lazy may not be the same as those who don’t balance as many careers as she does. After she completes the last two shows of her “The Music . . . The Mem’ries . . . The Magic!” this week, Streisand will return to work on writing her memoir and continue her search for finding a new film project to direct, in addition to supporting the political and philanthropic causes close to her heart.
These shows — which she’s calling “The Encore” following last year’s short tour that coincided with her most recent No. 1 album, “Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” (Columbia) — continue her move to better manage the stage fright that began shortly after her last Long Island performance, on Aug. 9, 1963, at the Lido Club in Lido Beach.
She says last year’s tour, which included two shows at Barclays Center, made her feel relatively at home on stage again. “I think I was the most comfortable since I was whenever I was pregnant with my son, when I was 23 or 24,” said Streisand, who turned 75 on April 24. “Then, something set in that I didn’t like when performing live.”
For 27 years after that, she stopped performing for paying audiences — until returning to the stage on New Year’s Eve of 1993.
Streisand said it was a private party that encouraged her to try again. “I was at my friend Donna Karan’s house in Aspen and I saw Liza Minnelli get up and sing with a piano player in the middle of the living room,” she said. “I thought, ‘I can’t believe she can do that.’ I would be too shy. I would see people. At least when I sing in an arena, it’s dark.”
Streisand realized she would have to challenge herself to get over the fear. (She said she also sets goals for each tour. This week’s goal was to purchase a piece of art, though she recently lost it at auction. “It went a little too high,” she said. “It’s OK, now it’ll be in my stash for something else I love.”)
She also realized how important performances can be. As the new chairwoman of the board for the performing arts center planned for the World Trade Center site, it’s a challenge she is honored to take on.
“It’s a site that is holy, with the spirits of so many beautiful souls,” Streisand said. “I think it’s going to be a great place to perform in for all kinds of artists, for music. It will be a place to celebrate life — l’chaim! — and not death.”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Thursday, May 4, NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale; and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 6, Barclays Center, Brooklyn
INFO $125.50-$614.50; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com
Barbra Streisand’s “The Music . . . The Mem’ries . . . The Magic!” tour means one more chance to celebrate her remarkable record of having a No. 1 album in each of the past six decades by performing a song from each decade in concert. Here’s a look at what she may choose:
1960s: Title track from “People” (1964)
1970s: Title track from “The Way We Were” (1974); “Evergreen” from “A Star is Born” (1976); “Stoney End” from “Barbra Streisand’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2” (1978)
1980s: “Woman in Love” from “Guilty” (1980); “Being Alive” from “The Broadway Album” (1985)
1990s: “Children Will Listen” from “Back to Broadway” (1993); “Everything Must Change” from “Higher Ground” (1997)
2000s: “Make Someone Happy” from “Love Is the Answer” (2009)
2010s: “Love Me Tender” from “Partners” (2014); “Climb Every Mountain” from “Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” (2016)
— GLENN GAMBOA