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At first, in Boston, the wonderfully funny seduction scene was played straight. Barbra, something of a director herself, inspired the change to farce. She also proved to be an unbelievably quick study. One day during the New York previews, she was handed three new scenes and half a song, and she delivered them all flawlessly that evening. She even overcame electronic hazards. Although she has a big voice, she wears a microphone in her cleavage to help get the low, soft songs up to the balcony. The batteries are taped to her bottom. On opening night in Boston, this apparatus began receiving police calls that were audible beyond the footlights.
Sense of Courage. When Funny Girl finally opened, the novice star had added to her performance a dazzling spray of gestures, inflections and a hundred small takes. She was ready to carry the show on her own.
Her intensive education in the tryouts did more than produce a star for a single show, a female Ernest Borgnine doomed to television remembrances of Marty. She is the sort that comes along once in a generation. She has more than mere technical versatility. The real force of her talent comes from an individual spirit that is unique, a kind of life force that makes her even more of a personality than a performer. "She carries her own spotlight," says Jule Styne as a simple statement of observable fact.
People who knew and loved Fanny Brice say that Barbra's approximation of her is warmly moving and sometimes almost incredibly exact, but Barbra has never heard a Fanny Brice record or seen a Fanny Brice movie. Similarity draws from the shared Eastern-asphalt accents of the two women, from close resemblances in their wide mouths and angular gestures, and even more from the sense of courage that both put across in the act of provoking laughter.
Smolce Together. For all her brilliance, Barbra Streisand's confidence could still use a few years on the road. Broadway's critics gave her everything but frankincense and myrrh; yet she wondered why their reviews were not more enthusiastic and decided that they were ganging up upon her in an inexplicable personal attack. "All right, what is it? Am I great or am I lousy, huh? I need to know," she kept saying to anyone in sight last week.
Anyone generally included Elliott Gould, 25, her tall and attractive husband, who was the leading man in I Can Get It for You Wholesale. He, too, comes from Brooklyn. They have been married for a year. He seems to understand her better than anyone ever has, and he speaks of .her quite humorously, freely and often movingly.
He saw her first at an audition for Wholesale and thought she was "the weirdo of all times." But "when I saw her next, I offered her a cigar and we had a smoke together. She was always kind of a loner. And the more I got to know her, the more I was fascinated with her. She needs to be protected. She's a very fragile little girl. She doesn't commit easily. I found her absolutely exquisite. As conventional beatniks go, she's different-looking. I had this desire to make her feel secure.