BEST BETS: Streisand tribute show at Milton Theatre this weekend

Carla DelVillagio brings her show “Simply Streisand” to the Milton Theatre for performances today, Saturday and Sunday. (Submitted photo)

Carla DelVillagio says her husband, Paul Brown, gets all of the “blame or credit” for the way she’s been making a good part of her living for the past decade.

A salesman by trade, she says he can be very convincing. Ms. DelVillagio, a classically trained singer, had taken a break from music when she was at a karaoke bar and the only thing she could think of to sing was a Barbra Streisand song.

Already being told throughout the years that she looked like the legendary singer, her song sparked an idea in Mr. Brown that she become a Streisand tribute artist.

“I honestly thought it was the craziest thing I had ever heard. There’s no other voice like hers,” Ms. DelVillagio said.

“I wasn’t trained to sing in the Broadway style.”

After agreeing to get up some semblance of an act in 2006, she went to the annual Sunburst Convention of Celebrity Impersonators near her home in Orlando, Florida, to try it out and see what kind of reaction she could get.

“Although not really knowing what I was doing, I was well-received. I got good feedback and lots of encouragement. It was great to have that opportunity to test the waters before I jumped in with both feet,” she said.

“It’s kind of scary to look at those early videos. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing early on but, like anything, practice makes perfect. I’ve made it better over the years, eventually turning the act into a theatrical production.”

She brings her show “Simply Streisand” to the Milton Theatre this weekend for three performances — today at 1 p.m., Saturday night at 8 and Sunday night at 7.

More than 10 years after her first convention visit, she has performed in venues from Miami to Las Vegas to New York City.

She has gone on to win many awards from Sunburst and was inducted into the Sunburst Hall of Fame in 2012. She also received the prestigious Bea Fogelman Award of Excellence, Sunburst’s highest honor, in 2015.

The Milton show is a return engagement for Ms. DelVillagio who performed there last year with her “Then and Now” show, which showcases Ms. Streisand’s career from the beginning until the current day.

“The audience was just so great at the Milton (Theatre) last year. They were so much fun. I remember taking a selfie with them on stage. I’m really looking forward to the weekend,” she said.

She said the Milton shows will be a combination of all things Barbra with an emphasis on her Broadway tunes and other songs that Ms. DelVillagio hasn’t performed much in the past.

“I plan on pulling out many things from my bag of tricks,” she said.

Along with being told she looked like the eight-time Grammy winner for many years, Ms. DelVillagio has also been a fan for as long as she can remember.

“I’ve always admired her voice. I’ve been a voice teacher for many years and I find myself constantly talking about her to my students to the point that they are probably sick of hearing about her,” she said.

“She just has such a great technique and that’s probably why she has lasted more than 60 years in the business. She’s 75 years old now and her voice is still timeless. She sounds like a kid.”

Ms DelVillagio has seen Ms. Streisand four times in concert where she takes mental notes while still enjoying the performance.

“Her command of the stage is just incredible. She can be doing a show in Madison Square Garden and it can still seem like she is singing just to you,” she said.

Along with seeing her in concert, Ms. DelVillagio says she has studied videos of Ms. Streisand singing and in her many films in order to perfect her presentation.

Helping that process is a collection of gowns that are replicas of ones Ms. Streisand has worn on stage and screen.

“I have a wonderful costume designer and seamstress down in South Florida. I can send her pictures or videos of certain dresses and she can make them look very authentic,” she said.

Her favorite is a replica red, white and blue sailor dress that Ms. Streisand wore in her 1965 CBS television special “My Name is Barbra” that introduced the up-and-coming star to a wide audience.

“I got to know the man who owns the actual dress and got some pictures of it to be able to do an amazing recreation of it,” she said.

She estimates she does about 100 Streisand shows a year and will return to Milton in December to do two holidays concerts.

One of her most memorable shows was in June of 2012 when she performed at the site of the Bon Soir nightclub, where Ms. Streisand had her first professional engagement, in September 1960. She was the opening act for comedian Phyllis Diller.

The nightclub had been renovated and renamed The Pink Elephant. Ms. DelVillagio was asked to be its first act.

“That was an amazing performance. They asked me to come and perform in the new venue. I was just blown away and just so thrilled to be on that stage. It was really wonderful,” she said.

The weekend shows will be filled with photos of Ms. Streisand, music and comedy. It’s an interactive performance where she talks a great deal with the crowd.

“I try to make it funny at times. She is the ‘Funny Girl’ after all,” Ms. DelVillagio said, referencing Ms. Streisand’s 1969 Oscar-winning role.

“I love working with the audience and you never know where things are going to go or what’s going to happen. It’s a difference experience every time and that part is really enjoyable.”

Tickets for “Simply Streisand” are $20-$25 and available for purchase online at MiltonTheatre.com, by calling 302-684-3038 or at the event itself.

The Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St., along the Broadkill River in downtown Milton.

Pegasus Trio at Dover Public Library

The Pegasus Trio, performing music of Bizet, Handel and Scott Joplin as well as traditional Irish songs, Dixie classics and the trio’s original compositions, will be in concert tonight at the Dover Public Library for the library’s free In Harmony series.

Chris Braddock, guitar; Mindy Bowman, flute; and Jeanmarie Braddock, violin, make up Pegasus Trio.

Show time is 6:30 p.m. Dover Public Library is at 35 E. Loockerman Plaza.

Delmarva Folk Hero contest

The Delaware Friends of Folk are gearing up to present the preliminary events in their 11th annual Delmarva Folk Hero contest.

Two open mic shows will be held in conjunction with the July 15 and Aug. 19 coffee houses. The events begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Bennett Chapel at Wesley College, Bradford and Division streets in Dover. Sign-up will start at 6:45 and each performer will get 15 to 20 minutes on the Friends of Folk stage.

Ballots will be distributed for the audience to vote for their favorite performer and three finalists from each evening will be selected by those present.

The finalists will each get a performance slot on Friday night, Sept. 22, at the Delmarva Folk Festival. Again that evening, the audience will vote for their favorite, and the winner will be named the 11th Delmarva Folk Hero.

Prizes include $100 cash, the opening performance spot the next day for the 26th annual Delmarva Folk Festival, an invitation to appear live with Mark Rogers on WSTW’s Hometown Heroes show, and more.

Performers should present a genre similar to the ones typically presented by Delaware Friends of Folk – folk (traditional, new, or “singer songwriter”), bluegrass, blues, Celtic, jazz, New Age, World, old-time, roots, and story-telling, preferably using acoustic instruments.

To simplify changeovers, acts should be no more than five performers, with a strong preference toward fewer members in any act. No drum kits and no pre-recorded accompaniment please.

Admission is $3 for members of Delaware Friends of Folk and $5 for non-members. Performers and those 12 and under are admitted free. Fresh-brewed coffee, baked cookies and other snacks will be available.

Delaware Friends of Folk are partially supported by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, visit www.delfolk.org.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is “Spider-Man Homecoming 3D.”

On download and DVD starting Tuesday is “The Fate of the Furious,” “Smurfs: The Lost Village” and “The Lost City of Z.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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