“This is my theater,” Barbra Streisand told an audience of adoring fans as she walked on stage at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theater on Friday (Aug. 26) afternoon.
Although she was met with a standing ovation before she said one word, the music-theater-film icon didn’t declare “this is my theater” with any sense of ego or ownership. Instead, she uttered the words wistfully, as if trying to remember something from a past life. Which, in a sense, was true: 52 years ago on that stage, Streisand began her ascent into the stratosphere with the starring role in the 1964 stage production of Funny Girl. Now, 30-plus albums and an EGOT later, Streisand is a different human than the twentysomething who took Broadway by storm in the mid ’60s.
But on Friday, Streisand returned to her old stomping grounds for SiriusXM’s Town Hall With Barbra Streisand, a Q&A session with Patrick Wilson (who duets with the legend on her new Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway album) and fans that found her talking about everything from stage fright to Donald Trump’s DNA.
The town hall event — which will be broadcast Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. ET on SiriusXM channel 18 — will help ring in the return of SiriusXM’s exclusive, limited-run Barbra Streisand Channel when it takes over satellite radio on Sept. 6 (it originally ran during Sept. 2014).
Ahead of the SiriusXM broadcast, Billboard is sharing a few highlights from the scintillating town hall discussion with the inimitable icon. Here are five essential Streisand moments from SiriusXM’s Town Hall With Barbra Streisand.
Her Take on Trump’s DNA
“I was doing a benefit at my home for awareness about women’s heart disease, which kills more people than all the cancers combined,” she said. “Bill Clinton was at this event talking about human DNA, and said that 99.9 percent of us have the same, almost identical DNA as every other person on the face of the earth. Can you imagine that? That’s how much we are alike. Except for this .1 percent. And I said, ‘That must be Donald Trump.'” She also reminded people she’ll sing at a benefit for Hillary Clinton on Sept. 9, and weighed in on Trump’s claim that Hillary is racist: “Trump calls Hillary Clinton a bigot. You can call Hillary a lot of things, but how do you get to a bigot?”
On Gypsy Not Finding a Home
For years, Streisand has been hoping and hustling to get a remake of the iconic Gypsy to the big screen. While the future of the project remains uncertain (it recently lost its distributor), Streisand didn’t sound optimistic while talking about it during the town hall.
“I wanted to play Mama Rose in Gypsy. She was somewhat like my own mother. [Unlike Mama Rose] she did everything to deter me from being in the theater or going into acting — she’d rather me be a secretary in school, which is fine — so my mother was different in that way. But I think my mother had that suppression. My mother had a beautiful singing voice. Operatic. I said, ‘Well why didn’t you try to do this?’ And she said, ‘I was too shy to get up there.’ But of course, every bar mitzvah we went to… But I always felt she wasn’t satisfied in her life.”
She’s Not Esoteric About Her Talent
“I don’t understand anything intellectual about my voice. Somebody asked me years ago, I think I was 18, ‘How do you hold the notes so long?’ And I said, ‘Because I want to.'” She shared a similar story about an encounter with a vocal coach: “Someone came up to me at a party and said ‘I teach the Streisand Method’ and I said, ‘What’s that? I’d love for you to teach me.'”
Why She Never Returned to Broadway Despite the Massive Success of Funny Girl
“I got stage fright during Funny Girl actually. Which I write about during the book I’m writing, so in a sense you’ll have to wait to read that.”
She Truly Is a Perfectionist
The Town Hall event played excerpts from her Encore album throughout, but Streisand didn’t seem to be aware that the audio excerpts had been edited until they began to play. The first time the truncated audio selection skipped from one section of the song to another, she looked noticeably startled, and made a point to assure the audience afterward that it was an edited version of the track. When the rest of the Encore excerpts (including selections with Wilson, Hugh Jackman and Melissa McCarthy) played, Streisand smirked and jovially made scissor motions with her hands to the audience to indicate whenever an edit had been made. In short: Next time you edit Barbra’s music, let her know ahead of time.