By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
Barbra Streisand has long enjoyed the luxury of taking on only those projects that she’s passionate about. But her latest album , she insists, is a particular “labor of love.”
What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, out Tuesday, features 10 songs by the beloved husband-and-wife team, Streisand’s longtime collaborators and friends. All were recorded by the singer for the first time — a notable detail, as Streisand, 69, had covered more than 50 of the duo’s songs before.
A follow-up to 2009’s acclaimed, chart-topping standards collection, Love Is the Answer, the new album was produced by the singer and includes such familiar titles as The Windmills of Your Mind, Nice ‘n’ Easy and That Face, as well as lesser-known tunes. The Bergmans, both in their 80s, “were at every session,” Streisand says. “They’ve written for movies, so they write for stories and characters. I relate to them as an actress and a person.”
Streisand has a new film due next year, My Mother’s Curse, in which she plays Seth Rogen’s mom. The part is her “first starring role in many years” — though she may have another on the horizon. Before writer/director Arthur Laurents died at 93 last May, he had discussed a new film adaptation of his classic musical Gypsy, with Streisand cast as infamous stage mama Rose. Those plans are still intact, she says.
“We just have to find our team and a writer. It’s too bad, because I was looking forward to working with Arthur,” who directed Streisand in her Broadway debut. “I had seen him a few months before that, and he seemed so strong and healthy.”
Streisand also plans to revisit her theater roots in 2012, albeit as an observer. The first Broadway revival of Funny Girl, the 1964 musical that helped secure her stardom, is due next spring. Lauren Ambrose of Six Feet Under fame will step into Streisand’s shoes, playing comedian/actress Fanny Brice.
Streisand hadn’t been familiar with Ambrose, but she’s curious: “I saw a clip on YouTube of her singing My Man,” delivered by Streisand’s Fanny in the 1968 film adaptation. “But it was uptempo, so I couldn’t judge it. It doesn’t matter because she doesn’t sing it in the show.”
Streisand is already thinking ahead musically. She’s planning a duets album, considering Seal and Beyoncé among potential partners. “The timing will depend on whether I do (concert) dates, and if and when I do Gypsy,” Streisand says.
“And I want a holiday,” she adds. “I’m always torn between laziness and wanting to be creative. To work or not to work — it’s always a pull.”