My Mother and Me and Barbra: Bonding Over Streisand's Return to Brooklyn

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12 Oct 2012

Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand

Misty watercolored memories are stirred up for a mother and daughter taking in Barbra Streisand's Back to Brooklyn concert. Playbill editor Blake Ross reflects on a night to remember.


One hour before I was to meet my mother for a quick bite before the Oct. 11 Barbra Streisand Back to Brooklyn concert I get a text message: "I'm at the restaurant. Drinking wine."

I called her from my office. "Ma, we're not supposed to meet for another hour. What's up?"

"I couldn't wait!" she said, a bit too loud.

And so "The Night I Took My Mother to See Barbra Streisand in Concert" began.

In truth, I've seen Barbra perform many times before. (I worked for her as a press rep from 2004-2009 and traveled with her on tour in the U.S. and Canada in 2006 and again abroad in 2007). I've heard her sing maybe 20 times. But this was something different. I was working each of those times, stopping only momentarily when my favorite line was uttered or to scan the crowd to check on reporters or to converse with a producer. This would be the first time I would actually sit and listen to an entire three-hour block of Barbra Streisand music. And I would be sharing this experience with (who else?) my mother.

At dinner, my mom and I talked about her "indoctrination" of me into the Streisand fan club. (Trust me, you don't know "cool kid" until you're a ten-year-old telling your friends they must watch "Yentl" at a sleepover). My mom recalled several moments when I was home sick from school and she'd climb into my bed to watch "Funny Girl" with me. Or the time I sang "I'm the Greatest Star" at my seventh grade chorus recital (a very popular selection with the kids). We spent a lot of the Thursday dinner talking and laughing about these many Barbra moments that my mother and I shared. I suspect there were many such memories swapped between the groups of mothers and daughters, friends old and new, family members and others who made up the 19,000 people who attended the first of her two concerts at Brooklyn's new arena, Barclays Center.

The night was about a sentimental journey home for Barbra, whose last gig in her hometown of Brooklyn, NY, consisted of singing, as she put it, "on somebody's stoop on Pulaski Street…. I was eight years old." She gave shout-outs to her family in the audience including her brother Sheldon and her niece Erica. Her longtime manager of over 50 years, Marty Erlichman, is also a native Brooklynite. ("He discovered me in the neonatal unit," Barbra joked.)


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