June 25--Frank Sinatra appeared in concert and on television with most of the top performers of his time -- from Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley -- but he never connected with the self-proclaimed "greatest star" Barbra Streisand.
Yes, the two legends teamed up for "I've Got a Crush on You" on Sinatra's "Duets" album in 1993, but it was an aural illusion -- the stars did their singing in separate studios.
Singer-actors Sharon Owens and Sebastian Anzaldo present their own "What if?" scenario in the show, "Barbra and Frank -- The Concert That Never Was!," which they have performed for several years in Las Vegas and on tour, and will be bringing to Bridgeport's Downtown Cabaret Theatre for three shows starting Friday, June 28.
In a phone interview from Los Angeles, Owens and Anzaldo made it clear very quickly that they are thrilled to present their notion of what would have happened if the two stars had ever teamed up on stage.
"We know we're riding on the coattails of two amazing artists," Owens said. "Singing artists and movie artists."
In addition to providing performances of all the hits you might expect, the show is a dual biography in which audiences learn a lot about the two stars.
"It is amazing how they didn't ever perform together," Owens said of the period from the 1960s to the 1980s when Barbra and Frank ruled show business.
"She did have a competitive feeling toward him (in terms of) breaking his records," the performer said of Streisand's conquest of the recording, movie, TV and concert businesses. Barbra was actually one up on Frank in terms of her show business clout -- she conquered Broadway, too, which he never did.
When the time came to record the "Duets" song, Barbra wanted to do it in the studio with Frank -- "She begged," Owens said -- but Frank insisted on doing all of his tracks on that album by himself.
Although Sinatra has been dead for 15 years, he is as much of a music and style icon as ever. Justin Timberlake is just one of several male stars who have taken pointers from the way Frank inisted on looking sharp off-stage as well as on.
"We actually have teenagers come to the show," Anzaldo said. "A lot of the girls who are into musical theater are there to see Streisand. But the teen boys are hip to Sinatra and that cool style he had."
Anzaldo especially admires the way Sinatra "reinvented" himself after his career fell apart in the early 1950s. Firsrt, the star proved himself a potent movie force by winning an Oscar for "From Here to Eternity." Then, after Capitol Records signed him, the singer revolutionized the recording business by creating the "concept album" (songs carefully put together to create a theme for each album, rather than a random collection of tunes).
On a soundstage, Sinatra was known to push for only one take of a scene and then move on, but in a recording studio his perfectionism knew no bounds -- 40 or 50 takes of a song was not uncommon.
"One of his great gifts was surrounding himself with great musicans. He knew what he was doing. Luck never entered into it," Anzaldo said.
Although this fictional Frank and Barbra came together for the first time as performers in Las Vegas, after nine years together they are now a couple in real life, too.
"We almost had no choice," Owens said, laughing. "With our schedules we couldn't keep any other relationships working. We've traveled the world together for the last nine years, so we do get along in almost every way."
Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport. Friday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29 at 5 and 8 p.m. $39. 203-576-1636. www.dtcab.com
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