The Blue Angel—Streisand’s Reviews
East 54th Street
New York, NY
November 16—December 13, 1961
July 16—August 17 1962
Dream Street Column — August 7, 1962
I finally caught up with I Can Get It for You Wholesale the other night and as impressed as everybody else by the fresh comic performance given by Barbra Streisand as Miss Marmelstein. So after the show, I drifted over to the Blue Angel, where she does a midnight turn, to catch more of her. Wearing a daytime blouse and an evening skirt, a favorite combination of hers, she offered a completely unhackneyed song recital in which the most impressive thing was the almost awesome command of this 20-year-old. For one thing, although she falls short of having a great singing voice, she completely ignores its limitations an sings her head off, anyway, so that you almost believe she is a great pop singer. Then, too, she has a superb instinct for phrasing. Little Miss Streisand is clearly as hot as a Mexican blue-plate and I understand she and Anne Bancroft are now the sole competitors for the role of Fannie Brice in the musical Jule Styne is fashioning around the comedienne's career.
Time Magazine — January 25, 1963
She Knows What She Means
When Barbra Streisand talks, she gets lost in the trackless deserts of her burgeoning vocabulary. "Creativity is like a part of perversion," she will begin, "like a thing that goes inward for emotion, not responsively, because intellect is bad for what I do." Such thoughts always brig her to a helpless "Know what I mean?" And no one ever does. But when she sings, everyone knows exactly what she means; even with a banal song, she can hush a room as if she really had something worth saying.
Last week at Manhattan's Blue Angel, she cast timid eyes at the ceiling as if Major Bowes's cane were about to rip down from the attic. She squirmed onto a stool and let her coltish legs dangle, ankles flapping. She twisted bony fingers through her hair and blessed her audience with a tired smile. Then she sang — and at the first note, her voice erased all the gawkiness of her presence onstage.
Only 20 and a singer for barely three years, Barbra seldom hits a note on pitch but she slides into tune with such grace that her quavers often sound intended. Much as she denies learning from other singers, her style is unmistakably Lena Horne's, and she makes superb use of it. She closes her show with a slow version of Happy Days Are Here Again that lends the song an ambivalent sorrow only a very wise girl could dream up.
Born in Brooklyn, she did not make her first trip to Manhattan until she was 14. She had only a few hours of nightclub singing behind her when she was cast in a part on Broadway in last year's I Can Get It for You Wholesale. She stold the show with a number called Miss Marmelstein, and has been intent on musical comedy ever since. "I don't think about space and the nuclear thing," she says, starting off on another trip into the unknown. "I don't want to cut off the emotion because I just know the sensory things. I deal in the senses — know what I mean?"
Playboy, January 1963 Review
Barbra Streisand, caught recently at New York's Blue Angel, is one of those petite, young (20) creatures whose voice, style and general demeanor belie their appearance. She displayed a Valkyrie-sized set of vocal cords and a tightly-controlled delivery that ranged from meekly childlike to wantonly worldly. Arriving almost breathless from her smash performance as Miss Marmelstein in I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Barbra immediately set up lighthearted housekeeping with a way-out, upbeat-nik ballad from The Fantasticks that began, "I'd like to swim in an ice cold stream..." and after about six bars, every warm-blooded male in the house was ready to join her. Barbra, who first won fame as a comedienne, can be legitimately claimed as a singer of note; her "Cry Me A River" proved that. She could be plaintive (on the oddly-fashioned "I Hate Music, But I Like To Sing") or hilarious as she told why she was in love with Harold Mengert ("Not because he has a car...Arnie Fleisher has a car..."). The rest of her turn featured semi-abstract airs, ebullient ditties and verdant evergreens all in a row. A melodic musician, Miss Streisand deftly turned the Blue Angel into a Barbra-shop. Catch her soon and you'll have a cocktail-party ploy of being able to say you knew her when.
Robert Ruark 1963 Review
She Can Rock Rafters
Her nose is more evocative of moose than muse, and her eyes at best could be called Nilotic only by way of mascara, but along about two a.m. when she sings “Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home,” she's beautiful, even if home is only Brooklyn.
Her name is Barbra (correct) Streisand. She is 20 years old, she has a three-octave promiscuity of range, she packs more personal dynamic power than anybody I can recall since Libby Holman or Helen Morgan. She can sing as loud as Ethel Merman and as persuasively as Lena or Ella, as brassy as Sophie Tucker or as little-girl-tiny as a memory of Margaret Whiting, and she has a professional expertism that is second to nobody this side of Lee Wiley.
She has a fine, dry comic style, when necessary, and this knack of making herself beautiful in your ears. She is the hottest thing to hit the entertainment field since Lena Horne erupted, and she will be around 50 years from now if good songs are still written to be sung by good singers.
Young Miss Streisand is currently cramming the corner of The Blue Angel, that very tried and always uncannily successful diagnostician of talent. A lot of fledgling talent has taken wing from Max Gordon's little box on the East Side—nearly everyone you can think of from Belafonte to Carol Burnett, from Dorothy Loudon to Mike and Elaine.
The Blue Angel itself is a piece apart: only The Blue would have established a girl with a bumpy nose and the unwieldy name of Streisand as a candidate for immortality in the tricky business of enduring popular singing. Only The Blue, a small saloon, would be apt to serve you previews of the likes of Dick Gregory and the earlier Shelley Berman; only The Blue would give you interminable months of Bobby Short's piano in the lounge, as a distraction from the main attraction.
Only The Blue, I should say, with its combination of a Streisand inside and a Short outside, would stay crammed in a hungry month at best, January, but also a month in which New York's general newspaper strike has murdered show business. I have never understood the unerring instinct, but out of all the night clubs which have tried, flickered, failed and succeeded, The Blue Angel stands alone. If you make it at The Blue, you got it made.
And so Miss Streisand—who you might as well start remembering now so you can tell people you knew her when—fits the pattern of the only saloon in the city I frequent with any regularity. Only Miss Streisand can sing a cornball like “Happy Days Are Here Again” and make it emerge as a torch song which collapses the house. Only Miss Streisand can make an international event out of a song called “I'm in Love with Harold Mengert,” which is pure garment-center-Bronx-fashion humor.
And only Barbra Streisand, at this moment or in the past, can turn her head back so that you can count her tooth-fillings, swell her vocal cords like a flamenco singer, and turn “Cry Me a River” into something comparable to Enrico Caruso having his first bash at Pagliacci. When Streisand cries you a river, you got a river, Sam.
Streisand came into the singing business more or less accidentally—she says—as an unsuccessful actress. I'm inclined to doubt this offhand approach to success, because at the age of 20 she threads her way through some of the more intricate Cole Porter and Harold Arlen stuff with the deftness of a Sarah Vaughan or a Peggy Lee on a good, hard-working night when nobody is making private jokes with the sidemen.
Barbra is too impossibly skilled to be only 20, but 20 she is, and already a two-year veteran of the big time. She was an over-powering smash in the recently folded musical, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, and was moonlighting on the side until the show folded. Now she's full-time big time on her own, and the next musical she makes will see her name over the title.
Once in a while I like to rave, so I can brag about it 20 years later. If the world lasts another 20 years, Barbra Streisand from Brooklyn's Erasmus High School will still be around, rocking the rafters and getting more beautiful as the night grows later.
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