Gabs Sings Babs bubbles
with song and fun
Gabi Epstein’s cabaret-style show honours music legend Barbara Streisand
By Byron Toben
Back in October 2015, I reviewed the excellent 306-seat Segal Centre production of the 1963 musical Funny Girl, based on the life of the original funny girl herself, Fanny Brice. This was the show that had further launched the then 21-year-old Barbra Streisand to stardom. Featured in the lead role at the Segal was Torontonian Gabi Epstein (Gabs) who, like Barbra (Babs), started singing at a very young age and early appeared in that role in Toronto.
What a pleasure to see the twain meet across the hall in the more intimate 186-seat Studio in the Segal Centre’s Power Music Series of one night shows.
A lifelong admirer of Ms. Streisand, Ms Epstein wisely does not bill herself as an imitator, but delivers various Streisand songs in a close but distinctive tone. Well one exception to that, as she highlights, is, what else, The Way We Were.
Accompanied by piano virtuoso Mark Camilleri (also composer, arranger, conductor and recording studio owner) this cabaret-style show zips along buoyantly. Having recently seen the Cine Gael film about Irish centenarians, I was touched by Ms Epstein’s dedication of the song Poppa, Can You Hear Me to her own now 101-year-old Jewish grandmother, who found a second love after 80. Another favourite was Stars of David, from the 2014 Harold Green theatre show in Toronto.
In the audience was local singer Alexia Gourd, who had also appeared as member of the ensemble in the Segal show above. Ms Epstein invited her on stage to perform a beautiful duo song together.
Hopefully, this one time McGill student will reappear here in other of her unique ‘Gabarets’ from time to time. She continues to concentrate on intimate settings including private and corporate events.
A self proclaimed show off, she autographs her own CD, “Show Off” at the end (also available on iTunes and Spotify).
See Gabiepstein.com for future shows.
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.