The Adelaide Cabaret Festival started with a bang on the opening weekend with an all-star gala performance hosted by Julia Morris. It was fitting therefore, that two of the Festival's leading ladies - Ms Bernadette Peters and Ms Barbra Streisand performed the gala's prime spots.
Opening the Festival and gala was the rare return to Australia by the biggest supernova of them all - Barbra - who wowed the Festival Theatre's capacity crowd with two numbers, before exiting the stage and dashing to the Banquet Room to perform Simply Barbra.
Simply Barbra (created and performed by New Yorker Steven Brinberg) is an ever-evolving tribute to the life and recordings of one of the most recognisable voices of our time.
Having performed Barbra for over a decade, Brinberg knows his subject extremely well, satirising her vocal abilities and dominant personality to great effect. However, it is the subtle mannerisms and constant asides, so cleverly executed, that leave their mark.
The show's many highlights included some of Barbra's most famous hits such as Don't Rain on My Parade (described as from her most most recent Broadway musical Funny Girl - over 40 years ago), Evergreen (from A Star is Born) The Way He Makes me Feel (from Yentl) and a version of Memories (from The Way We Were) which begins with the song version not used in the film.
Every Simply Barbra performance includes a special guest appearance - opening night's guest was rising Australian performer Nick Christo performing (well trying to) a duet version of Over the Rainbow, which was very funny.
Later in the show, Barbra evoked the vocal styles of a list of legendary divas performing Sondheim's classic I'm Still Here.
In a remarkable display of vocal dexterity, Brinberg, as Barbra, showcased the likes of Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne, Cher, Bea Arthur, an hilarious Bette Davis and Carol Channing.
Superbly accompanied by Christopher Denny on piano, Simply Barbra is a must for any Streisand fan, but also a wonderful showcase for the talents of Mr Brinberg.
The Adelaide Cabaret Festival continues until 20 June. Simply Barbra will also be performing in Sydney in June.
Steven Brinberg is
Part of the 2009 Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Venue: Banquet Room
Dates: 5 - 7 June 2009
Tickets: Adult $36, (Saturday Matinee) $25; Conc $32
Duration: 1 hr 10 mins