Friday, August 8, 2014

Have an Ego, Mr. Goldstone

It's a foregone conclusion that actors have massive egos. And if you've been famous for more than five decades, like Barbra Streisand, it's been a long time indeed since someone tried to steer you away from a vanity project that hinges on improbable casting. 

But the news that Babs is finally set to star in and direct a new version of Gypsy, the biopic treatment of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee's life and rise to fame, strikes me as a bit desperate. Streisand is 72, after all, and at the start of the story the part requires her to play the mother of a child under the age of ten. Rosalind Russell was about 55 when she croaked and brayed her way through the Mama Rose songbook in the 1962 version, but she only got that part because she was married to the producer. At least Bette Midler was a more reasonable 48 in the 1993 version. 

Granted, Streisand did pull off playing a young girl pretending to be a young male Talmudic student in Yentl, 31 years ago at the age of 41. And I'm pretty sure her first Instagram post this week, showing her looking, er, refreshed, was intended to address critics like me who might call her out for being too long in the tooth for the part. I don't doubt for a minute that she can still sing the hell out of the role. But should she? 

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