Garrett Theater

49th Street

New York, NY

Opened January 15, 1959

The Garrett Theater was an attic-like theater space with 40 seats. Driftwood was a play by Maurice Tei Dunn that was performed for six weeks. Jim McDowall directed it.

“I remember throwing up my egg salad sandwich before I went on,” Barbra said.

Joan Rivers (in 1959 she was known as Joan Sandra Molinsky) has told the story for years that she and Streisand played lesbian lovers in Driftwood. “It was my idea,” Rivers said. “It was a man’s part and they couldn’t cast it, so I said ‘I’ll do it! Make them lesbians!’ and Barbra was really thrilled.”

Streisand in Driftwood

Rivers jokingly confessed, “Let me tell you, Barbra is a great kisser, but no tongue…”

Author Janes Spada disproved Rivers' story when he interviewed Driftwood playwright Maurice Tei Dunn in his book Streisand: Her Life.

The actual story of the play—as written—concerned “Gregg,” a beachcomber in Indiana in 1924 in love with “Anne,” pretending to be “Diana of the Dunes” in order to escape the clutches of her millionaire boyfriend. Miss Blake, a local property owner (played by Rivers), tries to stab “Anne/Diana” and Streisand played “Lorna,” a character who had a mysterious relationship with “Gregg”—with one scene in the first act, and a final scene in the last ten minutes of the play. “Lorna” is revealed to be the woman who helped “Gregg” escape from prison, and also the person behind a series of truck hijackings in the area!

“There was no lesbianism in my play. I can't imagine where Joan got that,” Dunn said. Streisand and Rivers did not share a scene. “That picture of them together ... was posed during rehearsals.”


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