BARBRA & FRANK
Sharon Owens and Sebastian Anzaldo, aka as “Barbra and Frank” in this town, have a lot to be proud of. This coming May will mark their 5th year, playing on the Strip, and in these days of shows closing left and right, it’s impressive to note that a modest show such as this one is surviving. By modest we mean no big budgets, no live band, nor back-up dancers or fancy, state-of-the-art production elements, in essence, no smoke-and-mirrors, just the vocal (and sometimes comedic) talents of Sebastian and Sharon who sing their hearts out. Trust us, it’s a tough-sell out there.
Playing at the cozy Le Bistro Theatre at the Riviera, there was a fairly sizable crowd on the Thursday night we went to catch the show. The audience comprised the older generation, who, as one of them put it, likes “the songs of yesterday, where I can understand the words and what they’re saying…”
That’s a tall order in this generation of P. Diddy, Britney and Madonna, where you might need a map to follow their songs. The show opens with a duet of “I’ve Got A Crush on You,” and followed by “Luck Be A Lady.” The camaraderie and on-stage banter between the duo is a well-oiled machine and this shows in their duets as Barbra and Frank. Not surprising, then, that each of them does well solo, though the show really comes together when they’re together on stage.
The pair are assisted by musical director Rob Hyatt, the laid-back and cool piano man, who sometimes does Kermit the Frog impersonations for comic effect. He also did an impressive duet with Sharon, singing “You’ll Never Know (Just How Much I love You),” in his standard voice and a ‘not-bad’ Louis Armstrong impersonation on “Hello, Dolly.”
Sharon’s solo segment is a collection of Streisand’s all-time hits and each song gets a lot of applause. (Though come to think of it – when did Barbra not have a hit?) Of course, she sang “People,” and “Second Hand Rose” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl. Seeing as I grew up in the seventies, I was more familiar with “Evergreen,” No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” and “Woman in Love.” Her rendition of “Papa Can You Hear Me” from Yentl, was so dead-on, it brought goosebumps. Definitely a fitting finale for her solo spot in the limelight.
Now it’s time for the ‘Chairman of the Board,’ and Sebastian does it just as well, with his trademark cigarette- and alcohol-aided baritone. Like Sharon, he sings a succession of Sinatra’s hits, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Strangers in the Night” and my favorite, “Come Fly With Me,” which I thought he did with such ease and skill, it would have made Frank proud.
It’s hard to tell which was the audience favorite because there was applause for each song, each singer. Most of the chosen songs also get a ton of audience participation, though perhaps the one that garnered the most enthusiasm was “The Theme from New York, New York” It’s also here where you hear them sing a capella, and the very brief moment they do is enough to make you realize just exactly how talented these two really are. You don’t place in the ‘Top Three’ in a national talent show, (ABC’s “The Next Best Thing”) if you aren’t any good… and it seems the rest of America agrees.
Just like one of the songs in their closing medley, “Somewhere,” there is a place for them. Alone, they’re great, but together, they’re formidable. They may not have made it in New York, but we think that Las Vegas is just as tough a town, and if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
-Rachel M. Sugay
Barbra and Frank… The Concert That Never Was
Le Bistro Theatre, Riviera Hotel. Show times are 8:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday. Tickets are $59.95 and $69.95.
*This article first appeared in our April 22-28, 2010 issue.