THE CONCERT SPECIAL ”Barbra: The Music ... the Mem’ries ... the Magic!”
WHEN | WHERE Starts streaming Wednesday on Netflix
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Barbra Streisand captures last year’s tour, which not only supported her latest No. 1 album, “Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” (Columbia), but also celebrated being the only artist to have a No. 1 album in each of the past six decades. She filmed her show at Miami’s American Airlines Arena in December and this special shows her both onstage and backstage.
MY SAY Early in “Barbra: The Music ... the Mem’ries ... the Magic!” there is a shot of Streisand applying her own makeup. “I’ve done it from the beginning,” she says, adding that on the set of “Funny Girl,” they tried to get someone else to do it for her. “I said, ‘Let’s do two tests. You make me up for one and I’ll make myself up for one.’ And they did agree with me that mine was better.”
That kind of attention to detail is what has made her a legend and it is on display throughout her first Netflix special.
Of course, it’s evident in the music — even more so than seeing her in concert because the sound here is so crisp you can hear how expressive she sounds in “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” or how quickly she shifts gears from storytelling to singing in “People.” Yes, at 75, Streisand doesn’t have the voice she had at 25, but this special shows why that really isn’t a problem.
Streisand, who knows how to use makeup to look her best, also knows what arrangements make her voice — in whatever era — sound its best. And whether she is singing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” with Jamie Foxx or “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” with the late Anthony Newley on film, Streisand sounds masterful.
Maybe even more masterful, though, is the way she knows how to best capture her performance. She directed the special with Jim Gable, and her influence is clear. She knows how far she should be from the microphone and what camera angle makes her look best as she sings. It’s a small thing, but when you see how many concert films have singers whose faces are obscured by microphones, it makes a big difference.
The flip side to that control, though, is that we don’t see many unguarded moments, though it is entertaining to see her get excited about a backstage ice cream stand or digging into some crab legs without waiting for silverware. And her tender tribute to her 14-year-old dog Samantha, who died in May, is actually more telling than the filmed pieces she showed during the concert of her fooling around with Melissa McCarthy and Hugh Jackman.
Streisand looks more comfortable on stage during “Barbra: The Music ... the Mem’ries ... the Magic!” than she has in years. Maybe she can find a way to extend that to showing her offstage life as well.
BOTTOM LINE Streisand shows her command and her softer side.