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'Glee' and the Barbra Streisand Connection

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 29th 2010 2:02PM
barbra_streisand_high_school_yearbookEver since 'Glee' began, there's been a thread running through it that's always reminded me of Barbra Streisand. In last Tuesday's episode, the thread was more like a rope, as four characters did the medley "One Less Bell/A House Is Not A Home," just like Streisand did in the 1971 Burt Bacharach TV special.

Apparently, others have picked up on this connection, too. This review in New York magazine suggested that the 'Glee' should really do a Barbra Streisand episode -- like the Madonna show -- because Barbra is 'the patron saint' of 'Glee' kids.

Whether they do an all-Streisand show or not, the writer made a great point about how the kids in New Directions are more akin to Brooklyn Barbra than almost any other performer. Before she graduated Erasmus Hall High School in 1959, Barbra Streisand was in glee club. (So was Neil Diamond!) But Streisand wasn't the star of Choral Club. The director, Mr. De Pietto, preferred blonde soprano,Trudy Wallace, and gave her all the solos. Streisand was put in the back, in the alto section.

Like the kids on 'Glee,' Streisand yearned to be popular, but she wasn't. Nobody threw a Slushee in her face, but she was considered a kook. She wore weird thrift shop clothes, experimented with outlandish makeup, and with her odd-ball looks -- the nose -- she didn't fit in.

The fact that she made it out of Brooklyn to become -- BARBRA STREISAND! -- is inspirational to any theater-crazed kid who feels like an outsider. Like Rachel -- for sure -- and Kurt and Artie, and even Puck! What do you think it meant when co-creator Ryan Murphy accepted the Golden Globe for 'Glee' last January, he said, "Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press and Miss Barbra Streisand." That was a shout-out linking Streisand to that show. And don't forget that for sectionals, Rachel channeled Streisand when she sang "Don't Rain on My Parade."

Then, the other night, the Bacharach/David medley. If you doubt that the arrangement was pure Streisand, take a look at her original performance:

So now there's a Facebook petition going around to get 'Glee' to do Streisand-music episode. Here's the link.

There's yet another Streisand/'Glee' connection that's coming up. On May 8, "Funny Girl," Barbra's 1968 film debut -- which won her the Best Actress Oscar (in a tie with Katherine Hepburn) -- is being shown on the big screen. At 7:30 PM at the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, 'Glee's' Ryan Murphy, executive producer Dante Di Loreto and Rachel Berry herself, Lea Michele, will do a special introduction for the movie. You think a few Gleeks will show up? Yeah, so do I.

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Glee Fan

Well, you got your wish, sort of. In Season 2, Episode 3, Lea Michele sings 'Papa, can you hear me?" and does it wonderfully.

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October 09 2010 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Geoffrey Anthony

Oh "Glee" please include "His Is the Only Music That Makes Me Dance" from FunnGirl in your Streisand episode. Thanks everso.

May 23 2010 at 12:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a great tribute to our greatest singer. Thank you GLEE!

April 30 2010 at 3:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mickey Mouse

A Barbra Streisand tribute show is a given as far as I'm concerned. Ryan Murphy has been courting her from the get-go, and this show truly captures a Broadway feel like no other show before. It's a fresh, it's relevant, it's sunshine on the tube! -- and it's right up Barbra's alley.

But I want more than a tribute show. I want Barbra to do a cameo scene, with Jane Lynch. Now THAT would be good TV. Golden, I tell you. Golden.

April 29 2010 at 11:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Go Barbra Go!!!

April 29 2010 at 10:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That would be an amazing show since Barbra's music has gone from Broadway tunes, to rock and disco, movies and back to Broadway. But it would be important for all the characters (not just Rachel) share in the tribute. What I liked so much about this last episode was that it allowed other singers to shine and let the "star" take a back seat.

April 29 2010 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I totally agree; I'm really pulling for a Streisand episode! Great article, Aillson!

April 29 2010 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a feeling that they will make a Streisand episode... Barbra was mentioned on the Golden Globe speech, the co creater Ryan Murphy said Lea Michele had a Streisand quality on the Oprah show and there are lots of mentions in the show.

April 29 2010 at 6:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's GREAT that you are pointing out all of Barbra's influences on Glee, Allison. Aside from the songs--it's the attitude too.

Boy a Barbra themed episode would be AMAZING.

April 29 2010 at 6:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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