Broadway For Bella
Madison Square Garden
Felt Forum, New York
November 1, 1970
In June 1970, Barbra Streisand supported Bella Abzug's campaign for the Democratic seat in Congress. Streisand held a fundraiser for Abzug in her New York home, and also joined the candidate as she rode around in a flatbed truck, campaigning.
Barbra continued her support for Bella Abzug on November 1, 1970 when she participated in a fundraising, pre-election concert at the Felt Forum. In the first half of the concert, Broadway stars performed numbers from their hit shows. Around ten o’clock, Barbra closed the concert with her set of songs, performed with a twenty-three-piece orchestra.
An audience recording of the event exists, and the crowd sounds positively rapturous over Barbra. Several fans recalled that they were allowed to move right up to the stage that evening as Streisand performed.
One Abzug supporter who was not a particularly big Streisand fan recalled the night:
I really only remember twenty minutes of it. Just about ten o'clock, naturally, the lights go down and the voice goes, 'Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Barbra Streisand'.
[...] that twenty minutes was a lesson for me in the meaning of talent. There were thousands of people in the house and she rocked, she killed, she absolutely blew the house away and me with it.
Abzug ran against Republican Barry Farber in New York’s 19th district. Barbra, due to open at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas at the end of November, sang six songs that evening ...
- Somebody Come And Play (from Sesame Street)
- I’ve Never Been A Woman Before
- Don’t Rain On My Parade [Barbra sang, “Hey Mister Farber, here I am”, then musically seguéd into “People”]
- Let Me Go
- Happy Days (* this is the only time Barbra has sung “Happy Days” as an uptempo song. After the usual, slow intro, Barbra broke tempo and sang it bright and fast. She returned to the standard, easy-tempo version at the end of the song.)
Click the button below to hear an excerpt of Barbra singing the opening song, "Somebody Come and Play":
Barbra was in a good mood [and good voice!] that night, and very interactive with the audience. Here are some of her ad libbed quotes from the show:
“Wanna dance?” during “People”
“I’m gonna charge you for those,” to someone who was taking her photograph.
“You must not touch. You can look, but don’t touch.”
“I don’t take requests, you know that,” when someone yelled out “Stoney End”.
Someone yelled “What are ya’ drinkin’?” and Barbra replied “Agua.”
“You know more about me than I do!” when one audience member yelled out her upcoming Vegas dates.
- Photos courtesy of Rafe Chase, from his collection.
- Live performance photos by Bob Scott.
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