Gabs Sings Babs

Gabi Finds Herself

In true cabaret style, Gabi Epstein shares her life story with the audience and tells us why she has chosen the songs she sings in her one-woman show, Gabs Sings Babs.  We hear about her many auditions that didn’t result in success, and we hear of her successes, such as landing her dream role.  She includes some self-deprecating humour about her dating life and some funny anecdotes about her family.  But mostly, she tells us of her life-long obsession with Barbra Streisand. 

Of course, some of the songs come from Funny Girl, the story of Fanny Brice which made Barbra Streisand famous.  Gabi had the same role in Funny Girl and appeared on stage at both the Harold Green Jewish Theatre in Toronto and the Segal Centre in Montreal. 

She starts out comparing her life to Barbra’s: Babs was born in Brooklyn in 1942 and came out with her first album in 1962.  Gabs was born in Toronto in 1985 and came out with her first album in 2010. 

Gabi opens her show with the Miss Marmelstein song from I Can Get it For You Wholesale, for which Streisand received a Tony nomination on Broadway.  Gabi explains that she is a Dora Award winner as she continues with the comparisons and a tongue-in-cheek nod to her idol.

Of course, she sings favourites from Funny Girl, including “Don’t Rain on my Parade” and the ever-popular “People”.  She has great fun with Fanny Brice’s song “Second-hand Rose” which Streisand has included in past concerts. Gabi also sings a selection from Yentl, with the well-known “Papa, can you hear me?”.  Another audience favourite is “Memories” from Streisand’s movie, The Way We Were.

Within two 45 minute sets, surrounded by tales of her upbringing, she covers many familiar Streisand hits, as well as some not heard as often.  She wraps up the evening with the hopeful tune, especially apt in these Covid times, “Happy Days are Here Again”.

Gabi’s husband Jeremy Lapalme directed this production, and assisted her in adding to the show to make a full-length performance out of a cabaret.  She credits him with challenging her to go further. 

The set – far more imaginative than most cabaret productions – includes a star’s backstage dressing room on one side and little 12-year-old Gabi’s bedroom on the other side. 

Gabi has, in the past, impersonated Barbra on stage.  But for this production she makes it clear that she is Gabs, not Babs.  She has found herself, and she is comfortable making Babs’ songs her own. 

She and her musical director and accompanist Mark Camilleri planned the set list together, developing new arrangements.  Some of Streisand’s familiar tunes are even put together in medleys. Camilleri’s expertise on the piano is evident throughout, which allows Gabi Epstein, herself, to shine on stage.

Gabs Sings Babs continues at the Globus Theatre, Lakeview Arts Barn near Bobcaygeon, until September 4.  Tickets available by calling the Box Office at 705-738-2037 or 1-800-304-7897 or visit https://www.lakeviewartsbarn.com/globus-current-season

Photo: Gabi Epstein in Gabs Sings Babs

Gabs Sings Babs
Performed by Gabi Epstein
Directed by Jeremy Lapalme
Musical Direction and Accompaniment by Mark Camilleri  
Globus Theatre, Lakeview Arts Barn, Bobcaygeon
September 2 to 4, 2021
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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