Have you heard the latest Barbra Streisand connection to “Glee,” the Fox TV series about a high school in Lima, Ohio, where at least one character — Rachel Berry (played by actress Lea Michele) — is obsessed with Barbra?
Lea, who acknowledges that like her TV alter ego, she’s a big Streisand fan, tweeted on Monday the following: “Currently watching Hoarders and this man has a Barbra Streisand Barbie!!! Where is this man and how can I get my hands on that doll!!!!!!”
Two days later, Barbra responded to the tweet, saying, “Forget the guy. I’m sending you the doll. But I want a Lea Michele doll when it comes out!” Isn’t that great?
Barbra’s tweet brought out two star responses, initially. First, Lea was verklempt and said on Twitter, “Am I dreaming or did Barbra Streisand just tweet me? I just died. I’m literally dead on the floor.”
And Lea’s costar on “Glee,” Dianna Agron, chimed in, “Barbra Streisand. Thank you for making my idol, Lea Michele, the most happy girl on planet earth right now. THANK YOU.”
Two more Lea tweets went as follows — directed to Barbra: “DEAL!! PS I adore you :)” and then, “This officially is the best day ever.”
This back and forth is one of the nicer things about social media today; we can listen in on the communication between the stars! In the old days, like before Twitter, the only way you knew that Barbra Streisand regularly sent notes of encouragement and appreciation to others was an item in the press. Like when Barbra told Jennifer Holliday after seeing her on Broadway in “Dream Girls,” not to change a thing about herself. That was at a time before Jen lost a lot of weight and many assumed she would never become a big star because of her size.
Today, though, the communication is wide open…if the stars choose to share. To me, this Barbra/Lea exchange was terrific. Barbra has commented before about the plethora of songs she’s associated with being repurposed on “Glee.” She joked last February at Musicares, that a niece asked Barbra why she sang so many songs from “Glee”!
It’s not surprising. “Glee” has turned to Streisand music a lot. Just the other night, for instance, in an episode that had a plot point about “West Side Story” being staged at McKinley High, “Somewhere” and “Something’s Coming” were done. Of course, Barbra reinvented both on “The Broadway Album,” and have sung those songs in concert ever since.
But the true Barbra link this past week was Kurt’s (Chris Colfer) rendition of “I’m The Greatest Star” from “Funny Girl.” Nobody, but nobody, has her signature on that song but Barbra. However, is there anything wrong with someone else doing the song?
This brings up an interesting point. Has “Glee” done too much Streisand worship…or is every musical reference to Barbra a tribute by the creators, Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk, to their favorite star?
Some have been turned off because the “Glee” versions of the songs, while very good, are just reflections of the original. Kristin Chenoweth and Michael Morrison’s superb duet of “One Less Bell to Answer”/”A House Is Not A Home” was first done brilliantly by Barbra — in a duet with herself — on “The Burt Bacharach Special” in 1972.
It would be great if “Glee” fans knew that and could go to YouTube.com and watch it…which is one reason I’d like to see Murphy and company find a way to annotate their musical references.
It was wonderful that when Lea Michele sang “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” in a show about Kurt’s father having a heart attack, that she mentioned “Yentl” as the source material. But was it really necessary for “Glee” to stage Lea’s rendition of “My Man” in a scene that virtually lifted the musical staging by Herbert Ross and William Wyler from the film “Funny Girl”?
And when Kurt and Rachel did “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead,” a song that Barbra did with composer Harold Arlen, I couldn’t help but pick up on every note sounding like the original arrangement…with no approbation to arranger Peter Matz. Was that right?
I’m not sure… What do you think? I’m inclined to see it all in a positive light. It’s great music, then and now, albeit in different styles for different times. And if a new generation of “Glee” fans — the “Gleeks” — discover all about Barbra thanks to their curiosity about songs done on the show, that’s all good.
And just to show you where I stand, I considered Lea’s “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from season one of the show to be excellent…if not the perfect version from the film.
And “Glee’s” version of the dance hit “Duck Sauce’s” was wonderful; that Barbra Streisand song that you’ve all heard by now. I loved “Glee’s” flash mob rendition and if Barbra happened to see it — somebody send her the DVD! — she proabably was reminded of her days as a cashier at Choy’s Orient in Brooklyn! Every order of egg rolls had to include plenty of duck sauce!