To Barbra With Love. An 80th Birthday Celebration.
Directed by Cameron Mitchell and accompanied by the Canberra Symphony Orchestra under conductor Vanessa Scammell with Michael Tyack at piano. Performed by Caroline O’Connor, Katie Noonan, Elsie McCann and Ainsley Melham. Presented by Live Nation. The Canberra Theatre. Canberra Theatre Centre. February 10-11. 2023Bookings: 62752700
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|To Barbra With Love - An 80th Birthday Celebration|
On February 25th this year it will be exactly six decades since Barbra Streisand’s first of three iconic Barbra albums was released. As part of an Australian tour, Canberra audiences were tonight treated to To Barbra With Love, in celebration of the diva’s eightieth birthday and performed by the amazing Caroline O’Connor, Elise McCann, Katie Noonan and Ainsley Melham with the backing of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor Vanessa Scammell. From the exuberant opening Barbrature of familiar melodies it was obvious that this would be a celebration to excite and delight lovers of Streisand’s remarkable career as singer, actress, producer, writer and director. It is a rare achievement for an overture to cause the goosebumps to rise, but it would not be the only time for the hairs to stand on end during a concert, sparkling with musical gems, polished by the phenomenal voices of the four singers.
|Caroline O'Connor, Katie Noonan, Elise McCann, Ryan Gonzalez|
|Ainsley Melham took over from Ryan Gonzalez |
Every number is greeted with rapturous applause, as much for Connor, Noonan, McCann and Melham as for Streisand and the many composers with whom she has worked over the past sixty years. But the piece d’ resistance was the full company’s final performance of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s Music that Makes Me Dance with McCann urging the audience to their feet. For the many Streisand fans in the audience there was little need for encouragement and the performance came to a rousing close with people dancing in the aisle as orchestra and singers fired up the Canberra Theatre with the audience foot stomping and arm waving their appreciation. It was a fitting end to a performance that was both flamboyant and adulatory, inspired and joyful. With four of the best in Australian musical talent and an orchestra that lifted the spirits under Scallem’s effervescent baton, To Barbra With Love appeared as an ageless and evergreen tribute to its greatest star.