Jenna Pastuszek brings her blockbuster concert ‘Me, Myself & Barbra’ to The Yale Club of NYC

As a student in the Master’s program at NYU’s Steinhardt School, singer extraordinaire Jenna Pastuszek was given an assignment to listen to Barbra Streisand’s first three albums, released in 1963-64, to decide which number was her favorite and to write an essay about it. It was an introduction to the superstar of the stage, screen, and recording studio that inspired her, at about the same age in her own young career, and evolved into her signature concert Me, Myself & Barbra – a tribute to the life and songs of the legendary singer (who, she noted, will turn 82 next week), presented for one night only at The Yale Club on April 15, as part of its “Musical Mondays” series. It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s heard her that Pastuszek has already been invited back next year, to perform her musical homage to Judy Garland, Get Happy!, which is sure to be another example of her stellar voice, magnetic stage presence, and easy rapport with the audience.

Jenna Pastuszek. Photo by Deb Miller.

Wearing a dress reminiscent of Streisand’s familiar sailor-style tops and accompanied on piano by music director Joshua Zecher-Ross (also a graduate of the Steinhardt School and her “right-hand man” – though she made him promise to use both hands while playing!), Pastuszek interspersed the one-hour concert of covers of Barbra’s lesser-known songs and biggest hits from her early years with biographical facts and personal stories of how her life, determination, and self-confidence helped drive her own, expressing her pride in the resiliency of her Ukrainian heritage and joking about how to pronounce her difficult last name (just think about holding a football that you will “pass to Zak”).

The show opened with a bouncy piano introduction, then Pastuszek taking the stage and launching into “Any Place I Hang My Hat,” making everyone feel that she was completely at home with her audience. Other numbers included the laughably frustrated “Miss Marmelstein” from I Can Get It for You Wholesale, in which the nineteen-year-old Streisand made her Broadway debut, the upbeat love song “Keepin’ Out of Mischief,” the aching “Lover Come Back to Me,” and the funny “Sweet Zoo,” all delivered with just the right emotions in her voice, facial expressions, and gestures.

Joshua Zecher-Ross. Photo by Deb Miller.

“Sweet Zoo” was followed by a pair of animated children’s songs, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” and “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead,” with Zecher-Ross joining in on the vocals and Pastuszek sharing the story of how she found she could stop her infant son from crying by singing The Wizard of Oz classic “Somewhere over the Rainbow” to him – a lead-in to her knockout “Get Happy Duet” with Zecher-Ross, combining “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “Get Happy,” which prompted Pastuszek’s account of Streisand’s 1963 TV appearance on The Judy Garland Show and their iconic duet on the optimistic medley.

Needless to say, it takes a phenomenal level of talent to take on the songs of Barbra (and Judy), and Jenna has it. It’s obvious why she’s in demand as both a performer and a voice teacher, with her extraordinarily smooth and powerful vocals, and astonishing breath control and long notes – most notably in her rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl (in which Streisand starred as Fanny Brice on Broadway and in the film adaptation), along with her spirited direct-address commentary and infectious joy in what she does. It was also clear in her flawless rapid-fire rendition of “The Minute Waltz” (as, she joked, she was running out of time near the end of the show!), reminding us that Streisand never sang the song in front of a live audience (though it was a track on her Color Me Barbra album).

Joshua Zecher-Ross and Jenna Pastuszek. Photo by Deb Miller.

The sensational concert closed with one of Streisand’s most popular and highly acclaimed songs “People,” also from Funny Girl, after which the house effusively clapped and cheered for an encore, with which she and Josh obliged, with another song and a fascinating story about Barbra’s former apartment in The Ardsley on Central Park West.

If you couldn’t get tickets for this stellar sold-out performance of Me, Myself & Barbra, you can visit Jenna Pastuszek’s website for future dates and venues, and you can look forward to her Judy Garland tribute back at The Yale Club next year. It’s most assuredly a show worth waiting for, and judging by the audience’s reaction, one that’s guaranteed to play to another full house.

Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes, without intermission.

Me, Myself & Barbra played on Monday, April 15, 2024, at The Yale Club, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue, NYC. For future dates and venues, visit Jenna Pastuszek’s website.


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