Earlier this week, it was announced that for the first time in 36 years, Barbra Streisand would be singing at the Academy Awards. According to Oscar executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, "In an evening that celebrates the artistry of movies and music, how could the telecast be complete without Barbra Streisand? We are honored that she has agreed to do a very special performance."
In a broadcast that wants to celebrate movie musicals, it's fitting that Barbra Streisand would be singled out for her contributions to the genre. In her career, she's appeared in six movie musicals at a time when they're considered quite rare. But Streisand's film work began with "Funny Girl," an adaptation of her Broadway success. She won the Oscar for that magnificent performance as Fanny Brice (in a tie with Katherine Hepburn for "A Lion in Winter"), then quickly appeared in two more musicals, "Hello, Dolly!" and "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever."
In 1975, she returned to the musical with "Funny Lady," a sequel to "Funny Girl," then was the creative force behind a remake of "A Star Is Born" in 1976. In the latter, she produced and starred, as well as wrote the Oscar-winning love theme, "Evergreen."
In 1983, Streisand truly elevated the film musical with the creative, original and poignant "Yentl." A film with music rather than a strict movie musical, Streisand directed, co-wrote, produced and starred in the movie, singing every song. It was a tour de force that no woman had ever achieved before in a major motion picture. Ironically, the film was awarded an Oscar for the score created by Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand, but Streisand was notoriously snubbed by the Academy.
Today, Barbra Streisand stands poised to wrap up her film musical career with another Broadway adaptation, "Gypsy." Joel Silver and Streisand are producing the movie and Julian Fellowes ("Downton Abbey") has written the screenplay based on Arthur Laurents' show with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
So, during this Oscar appearance on February 24, what can we expect Barbra Streisand to sing in her "very special performance"? Here's a few ideas:
- The show plans to honor movie musicals made in the past ten years, mentioning "Les Miserables," "Dreamgirls" and "Chicago." Barbra could do "On My Own" from "Les Mis," a song she recorded but never released, or another song from a musical done in the past decade, "Nine." Streisand sang "Unusual Way" in her 2006 tour.
- During the In Memoriam section of the show, an Oscar tradition, Barbra might appear to do a tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch by singing "The Way We Were." That song, one of Streisand's signatures, was an Oscar-winner and Barbra has never sung it at the Oscars.
- Barbra could cover the past and the future by re-creating the "Don't Rain On My Parade"/"Gypsy" medley from the "Back to Brooklyn" concert. She could explain that she started with "Funny Girl" and will end her musical movie career with the upcoming "Gypsy."
- Since Streisand's last musical was "Yentl," this would be a perfect opportunity to give that film a spotlight by doing a song from it…even though it's more than ten years ago.
- As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of 007, Barbra might surprise everyone by doing a classic James Bond song. Perhaps "Nobody Does It Better"? Maybe with Adele.