Gabi Epstein struts her stuff with her playful new rendition of Barbra Streisand’s classic Don’t Rain On My Parade — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
Epstein’s version of the whimsical, self-affirming hit from 1968’s Funny Girl begins as less theatrical and more reverential, highlighting the beauty and range of the singing and the poetry of the lyrics. Then, Epstein’s band switches gears by adding a dash of Latin flair, which is then where the vocals hit a new level of theatricality. The overall result is fun and cabaret-inspired and guaranteed to tickle even the staunchest Babs fans.
Growing up as a young Jewish Canadian woman and aspiring performer, the Toronto multi-talent looked to Streisand as a role model. Now, as a seasoned performer in her own right, Epstein’s shows her love on her tellingly titled sophomore album Gabs Sings Babs, set for release this spring. “Growing up without a lot of people who looked or sounded like me, I really turned to Barbra Streisand,” Epstein shares. “Babs is a champion of ‘not fitting a mold’ and using her extraordinary talents to prove naysayers wrong.”
The concept for Gabs Sings Babs began as a cabaret piece in 2015, when she and her producer/accompanist Mark Camilleri were playing around with different arrangements of Streisand’s hits, which Epstein used as a way to tell her own stories.
“My goal for the development of the piece was to find more Gabs in this story and to lead with that,” she reveals. “I never set out to do an imitation of Barbra Streisand. It was always about using her inspiration to create something uniquely true to myself. But despite my best efforts, the show was still about Babs.”
When the pandemic hit, Epstein found that “the great pause” forced her to think about who she really was and what she wanted to put out into the world, and she began reworking the numbers. “The subsequent arrangements that came out of this time are bold statements of who I am as an artist and person,” she says. “Even though these songs were made famous by someone else, this is the truest representation of myself I have ever put out. I finally found the Gabs in all of the Babs.
Hailed as Canada’s Queen of Cabaret, Epstein is a Dora winner and one of Canada’s leading stage/cabaret performers. Her stage show Gabs Sings Babs debuted at the Toronto Jazz Festival, has been performed at various venues, and will open the Port Stanley Festival Theatre’s season this June.