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REVIEW: Streisand on Netflix is a masterfully bound modern songbook

Streisand commands the stage once again in “Barbra: The Music...The Mem’ries...The Magic!”
Photo credit:
Netflix

The only set piece other than the massive orchestra on stage for “Barbra: The Music...The Mem’ries...The Magic!” now showing on Netflix is a stool, a porcelain teapot, matching cup and a small vase filled with some unremarkable roses.  

It’s not really the dressing you would expect for a six-decade-old stage and screen musical superstar with more top-ten albums than any other female singer in history. Yet it’s fitting because just like tea time people discuss life and memories. And that’s exactly where Barbra starts this wonderful concert, and they're both misty and water-colored. 

We haven’t heard from her in a while. Babs, now 75 was supposed to have retired from the concert stage in 2000, but toured again in 2006, then in 2012 for  “Barbra Live," only doing special one-night-only gigs in between.

Her last album was a collaboration with "I didn't know they could sing" duets featuring celebrities such as Melissa McCarthy, Seth McFarland, and Chris Pine to name a few. 

Now Netflix has made available a recording of her live show “Barbra: The Music...The Mem’ries...The Magic!” recorded in December 2016.

Let me make something clear: I am not a  Streisand super-fan, nor do I really care if she is doing “one last concert” or album. But I do love her music. She is one artist who has led me through all the major plot points of my life: growing up with a single mother in the 70’s with “Evergreen,” the disco era "Enough is Enough" (my first love for 12” singles), My middle and high school years, "Papa Can You Hear Me?" So I definitely love her voice and it's not worse for wear in this streaming special.

All the hits are here, one from each of her 11 best-selling albums; from movie musical Barbra to Broadway homages, she belts them out in two acts. 

During the show and in-between songs, the singer reminisces about her time both in front of and behind the camera. 

She also does this thing where she seems surprised that everyone loves her, reacting to standing ovations with, “I’m glad that you liked that." Her humbleness can feel heavy at times.  

All-in-all “Barbra: The Music...The Mem’ries...The Magic!” is a great show. The legendary singer keeps things interesting throughout, often acting out the songs, or telling interesting stories about them. 

She has not lost her touch with age, in fact, she sounds better than ever. 

Streisand is also joined by special guests, including doing a duet with Jamie Foxx.

There isn't really anything new in this special, but that's a part of its charm.

It's like Sunday tea; it's a traditional affair but nothing really exciting happens. 

 Directed by Jim Gable and Barbra Streisand, Barbra: The Music...The Mem’ries...The Magic!, a Netflix film, is produced by Ann Kim and Ned Doyle, with Streisand and Marty Erlichman serving as executive producers.  The film is written by Streisand, Jay Landers and Richard Jay-Alexander.