The Blue Angel
152 East 55th Street
New York, NY
Nov. 16—Dec. 13, 1961
July 16—Aug. 17, 1962
Jan. 8—Jan. 28, 1963
The Blue Angel, named after the Marlene Dietrich film and run by Max Gordon and Herbert Jacoby, was a classy New York nightclub with a red carpet at its entrance. The back room, where Barbra and other entertainers performed, was long and narrow, with quilted walls. The stage was lit by a single spotlight.
After closing the off-Broadway review Another Evening with Harry Stoones, Barbra went to work at The Blue Angel. Arthur Laurents, Harold Rome and Jerome Weidman (the director, composer, and writer of I Can Get It for You Wholesale) saw Barbra at The Blue Angel. It was her performance there, as well as her audition, that helped her win the role of Miss Marmelstein in Wholesale—Streisand's first Broadway musical.
Barbra performed midnight shows at The Blue Angel after her Wholesale performance. In 1995, Laurents told The Advocate, “I helped her with her nightclub act at the Blue Angel, and I brought Steve Sondheim to hear her. He didn’t like her voice at all. And she didn’t like his music. Now you couldn’t get a piece of paper between the two of them, they’re so close.”
Streisand sang her club standards at The Blue Angel like “Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home,” “Value,” “Cry Me A River,” and “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
Broadway producer Philip Rose (A Raisin in the Sun and Owl and the Pussycat) saw Streisand at the Blue Angel and wrote about it:
At the Angel, where she was the opening act for Fat Jack Leonard, a borscht belt comic, she did something amazing. The audience, which had of course come to see Leonard, paid no attention to the loudspeaker accouncement, “We now present Barbra Streisand.” She came on, sat down on a stool, and her pianist Peter Daniels played an introductory arpeggio to her first song. The audience continued drinking, talking, paying no attention, obviously prepared to be bored until Leonard would appear. While the pianist repeated the arpeggio, Barbra continued to wait. Only when most of the audience was finally looking at her, did she nod to the pianist and begin her opening number, a quiet Harold Arlen song. During that performance she also sang her incredible version of “Happy Days Are Here Again.” By the end, the audience wouldn't have cared if Jack E. Leonard had never come on.”
Columbia Records’ A&R (Artists and Repertoire) director David Kapralik was an early Streisand fan. “I remember I was at home watching [The Garry Moore Show] when she came on,” he said. “And the hairs began to rise on the back of my neck. I was transfixed by this singer [...] I found out she was down at the Blue Angel. I went there, to see her in person, to find out if she could set off the same electricity. She could, and she did. She absolutely destroyed me. No one since Edith Piaf affected me so. She had an auteur, a primal force about her. She went through the full spectrum of emotions. She put me in that special place between laughter and tears.”
Below: Blue Angel owners Herbert Jacoby and Max Gordon listen to a singer audition inside the tony nightclub.
Kapralik helped convince his boss, Goddard Lieberson (President of Columbia Records) to see Barbra’s act. Seeing Barbra live in front of an adoring audience helped convince Lieberson to finally sign her to Columbia Records in October 1962.
Below: Streisand's New York cabaret and public dance hall employee identification card, required by law in order for her to perform at venues like The Blue Angel. New York City licensed cabaret performers in 1963.
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