First published in Sydney Star Observer, 02 June 2009.

When Barbra Streisand was unable to attend her friend Donna Karan’s birthday party last year she contacted Steven Brinberg, aka Simply Barbra, and asked him to perform in her absence.

‘I don’t think I fooled anybody!’ he says.

‘It was a small room. But I have fooled people before in big rooms. In London once someone said ‘How can she make as much here as in an arena?’ and after a casino show an elderly woman said, ‘I never thought I’d get to see her!’

When the world’s most dazzling Streisand impersonator brings his critically acclaimed show to Australia this month, be advised – the resemblance is uncanny.

Brinberg’s sparkling wit, physical mannerisms and vocal prowess make Simply Barbra the ultimate homage to all things Babs, but the performer rejects the drag tag.

‘In America people have problems separating what I do from typical drag – that can be fun but it’s not what I do,’ he explains.

Brinberg discovered his talent for imitating voices while growing up in New York, often trying to sing like Streisand and Shirley MacLaine.

But it wasn’t until after ten years of professional acting and singing that he performed a whole show as Simply Barbra.

Has the legendary one herself ever attended a performance?

‘Barbra hasn’t yet, but my best ever show was the one Liza Minnelli attended. My love for her is equal to that of Barbra, so to have her there was extraordinary.’

Nine years ago Brinberg said the success of Dame Edna had broken the barriers for performers like him. Does he think people today are more accepting of men dressing as women?

‘Things were actually better in the ’60s when there were variety shows and the only kind of drag that existed was very artistic like mine – I need a time machine!’ he laughs, before adding ‘That’s a Barbra song.’

info: Simply Barbra at the Supper Club, Darlinghurst, June 10-13. Tickets at moshtix.com.au

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