Concert is finale of Onstage at Kingsborough’s spring season
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn icon Barbra Streisand is getting the ultimate borough tribute – an evening devoted to her songs – at a special concert at Kingsborough Community College on Saturday.
Ann Hampton Callaway, a Tony nominated singer-songwriter who has written songs for Streisand, including the love song that Barbra sang to her husband James Brolin at their wedding, is performing “The Barbra Streisand Songbook” at Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, on Saturday, May 17, at 8 p.m.
Hampton Callaway’s concert tribute to her friend marks the final show in the spring season of Onstage at Kingsborough, a series designed to bring top-notch talent to southern Brooklyn for audiences to enjoy.
“I am looking forward to it. I love the idea of paying tribute to Barbra. Her songs are the soundtrack to our lives,” Hampton Callaway told the Brooklyn Eagle in a phone interview on May 9. “I want to paint a portrait of this great artist.”
She points to “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from Streisand’s legendary performance in “Funny Girl” as an example of the importance of the Brooklyn-born superstar as a cultural icon. People connect to the song in a special way, according to Hampton Callaway. “I always felt that it was a song about standing up for yourself against people who don’t believe in you. It’s a song about believing in yourself,” she told the Eagle.
At the May 17 show, expect to hear timeless classics, including unforgettable songs from Streisand’s Broadway years (“Funny Girl”) to her films (“A Star Is Born”) and from her early pop albums (“People”) to her later concept albums (“Higher Ground”). Hampton Callaway will intersperse the songs with humorous and inspiring anecdotes about her friend and role model.
Hampton Callaway, whose credits include writing the theme song to the television series “The Nanny,” starring Fran Drescher, has written more than 250 songs in her career. A performer as well as a songwriter, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for “Swing!”
She has composed several songs that Streisand has recorded, including "At the Same Time" and “A Christmas Lullaby.” She also wrote the lyrics to “I’ve Dreamed of You,” which Streisand loved so much, she sang it to actor James Brolin at their wedding.
Even before she had the chance to work with Streisand, Hampton Callaway was a big fan. It began when she was a child, she said. “My parents brought home her 'People' album and I was a fan from that day on. I had never heard anybody sound like that. After that, I got every album of hers that I could,” she recalled.
Years later, Hampton Callaway met Streisand. “I felt like I was hyper-ventilating talking to her!” she said.
When she started writing songs for Streisand she found her to be a great teacher. “I had heard that Barbra could be difficult. But I have never found that. I learned a lot from her as a songwriter,” she said. Streisand can be exacting, but Hampton Callaway said she doesn’t mind. “Barbra has such integrity. When she rejects a song, or sends it back because she wants it re-written, she knows what she’s doing. Her taste is impeccable,” she said.
She once asked Streisand what she wanted in a particular song. “She told me she wanted me to create each lyric so that people understand it immediately upon first hearing. She also wanted the lyrics to unfold so that upon subsequent hearings, the listener finds deeper meaning,” Hampton Callaway said.
Hampton Callaway said she thinks Streisand’s acting career informs the singing career. “She thinks of herself primarily as an actress. She’s always looking for the truth in a role. And she looks for the truth in a song,” she said.
The thing Hampton Callaway admires most about Streisand? “She has always stayed true to herself,” she said.
Anna Becker, executive director of Onstage at Kingsborough, said the Hampton Callaway show is an ideal show with which to end the spring season. “Our aim is to present masters of their craft. Ann Hampton Callaway is a great performer. We are thrilled to end our season on such a high note, no pun intended!” Becker told the Eagle.
On Stage at Kingsborough is a program at Kingsborough Community College that aims to bring world class performers to southern Brooklyn for ticket prices that are a fraction of what audiences would pay on Broadway and elsewhere.
Tickets to “The Barbra Streisand Songbook” are $35 and $30. The box office located on the college campus and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call 718-368-5596 or visit www.OnStageAtKingsborough.org.