Fascinating Aida’s Liza Pulman talks about bring Streisand to the West End
Direct from a sell-out run at Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s theatre The Other Palace and sell-out performances at Wilton’s Music Hall, Fascinating Aida’s Liza Pulman returns to London’s West End in 2019 when she performs Liza Pulman Sings Streisand at The Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in March and April.
Appearing on stage alongside her six-piece band, The Stardust Ensemble and her musical director Joseph Atkins, Liza Pulman gives fans another delightful chance to see her incredible talents live on stage right in the heart of London’s Theatre land when she performs on Monday 18th March, Monday 1st April, Monday 8th April and Monday 15th April.
Liza’s easy wit, flawless vocals and compelling storytelling during the show are inspired by the off-beat and enchanting veracity of the musical legend that is Barbra Streisand, as she squeezes history, warmth and humour into this critically lauded five-star triumph of a show.
Can you tell me about the show?
Well, the clue is in the title! Its me, Liza Pulman, singing the songs of Barbra Streisand! But this is in no way a tribute show. I don’t do an impersonation or put on a curly wig at any point. Its very much me up there. But I’m not on my own, I also share the stage, and the evening ,with my amazing 6-piece band, the slightly camply named Stardust Ensemble (sorry boys!) My Musical Director Joseph Atkins and I have done our own, new arrangements of these fantastic songs, and I still get goose bumps singing them. But please don’t think its all Evergreen and Kleenex! These iconic songs are threaded together with lots of funny stories about Streisand, her life, my life, and all sprinkled with a large dollop of humour. This is a show that celebrates a woman capable of breaking your heart one minute and slipping on a banana skin the next-I hope she’d approve.
What part do you play in the show and where does it fit in to the story?
I play the part of EVITA. Oh, sorry, wrong show! As I say, it’s not a tribute show so I certainly don’t play Barbra Streisand. I don’t really play anyone-just me.
What’s your favourite part of the whole show and why?
I have so many answers to this question because out of the enormous range of songs that Babs has recorded over the last 55 years, every song I’ve chosen for this show is a song that I love to sing. However, for the sheer high of it, it would have to be the end of act 2 when we do a barnstorming arrangement of Happy Days Are Here Again. It’s still the most exciting musical moment I’ve ever had on a stage.
What has been a highlight of your career so far?
Until I did this show, I would have said that it was getting to play New York with my colleagues in Fascinating Aida-a town we all dream of performing in and we played it not once but three times. However, ask me in April and i’ll be able to say “playing a show conceived by me, written by me and sung by me on the stage of the Lyric, Shaftsbury Avenue in London’s West End.” I can’t imagine the light ever getting much higher than that.
Who are your biggest inspirations inside and outside of the industry?
Quite a lot of Barbaras, as it turns out. Obviously Barbra Streisand. Vocally she’s been a huge influence on me and although I don’t set out to impersonate her I know you can hear shades of her in my voice. And off the stage she’s pretty inspirational too. Not one to be quiet when she sees injustice, she’s fantastically opinionated and wonderfully forthright and I utterly adore her. Barbara Cook is another Barbara who was a huge influence on me. I saw her doing her solo show in London at least 6 times (one of which was at the Lyric Shaftsbury Ave in fact). It was her way with a lyric but also her incredible ability to connect with an audience through song and through chat that I so admired. I remember looking at her and thinking “That’s the kind of a performer I want to be. That’s what I want to do.” She’s the only person I’ve ever written a fan letter to- I was 13yrs old-and she wrote back! And the other Barbara is my mother, the actress Barbara Young. My father (the writer Jack Pulman) died when I was 10 years old and my mum was faced with the rather daunting prospect of raising me without him. She worked throughout and I grew up in the dressing rooms of theatres and tv studios. She taught me the discipline of our craft and bathed my sister and I in music and old films. We would spend hours in the car or in the garden learning to sing in three part harmony. At 87 she is still working and if I have half her energy and look a quarter as good as she does by the time I hit my 80’s I’ll be happy with that.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
We have a good long sound check just to get us all in the right head space and then we always finish it with our bossa-nova version of On a Clear Day, just because it’s joyous and it makes us all smile. Afterwards the boys go for food but I head straight to the dressing room to get ready. Doing my hair and my makeup is my time to get my head into the show. I invariably add new things every time (bits of shameless comedy chat!) and I like to make sure I know what I’m doing so that I can go out there and enjoy the ride.
If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life what would it be?
If I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life I would be incredibly disappointed. Music is a huge part of my life and I listen to it everywhere I go. I never travel without my little speaker, I have massively eclectic taste and listen to all manner of things. There is so much music out there in the world so please, please don’t tell me I can only ever listen to one song on repeat for the rest of time?!!
It’s coming up to Christmas. Is there anything particular you will be asking Santa for? Ticket sales!
What’s so special about this production and why should audiences come to see it?
This is a totally joyous evening that celebrates a musical legend. It is packed with all the great songs that we love so much, The Way we were, People, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, Second Hand Rose and loads more. There’s a chance to cry and a chance to laugh and a chance to admire not one but two fabulous outfits! It’s also guaranteed to be cheaper than any Barbra Streisand concert you’ll ever see!
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
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