Streisand returns to roots

Zeta-Jones, Douglas give birthday bash

“IT’S HARD to have stage fright when, like, there’s no stage!”

That was Barbra Streisand last Saturday night at NYC’s tiny club, Village Vanguard. VV is the kind of artistically reputable, physically dinky spots the great star played back in the early 1960s, when she sang for practically pennies and — if she was lucky — her suppers. (Barbra never actually performed at the Vanguard — she auditioned to open for Miles Davis but didn’t get the gig!)

Streisand returned, for real, to the Vanguard for a one-night-only stint to promote her latest album, “Love Is The Answer,” produced by Diana Krall.

The event was also an answer to about one hundred fans’ prayers. These were contest-winners from around the world, who were happy to be squeezed into the club, just to hear La Divina sing. Well, not only did they get Barbra, they were squeezed against Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Donna Karan and other Streisand intimates such as Barry Diller, David Geffen, composers Marilyn and Alan Bergman and the enduring Marty Erlichman, who has been Streisand’s manager since 1961.

So, how was Barbra in this intimate setting, backed by a simple jazz quartet, holding an old-fashioned microphone with a wire? (Streisand herself joked about the mike, but it was surely her choice to use it. Nobody springs any surprises on Barbra.) She was …sublime.

SO, WHO sez big stars never have any normal, upscale, stylish fun and nobody in “show biz” ever gives a party anymore unless it’s “promotional.” Turns out not to be true.

Last week, at the posh St. Regis Roof in Manhattan, those married love birds Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas gave themselves (and others, famously born on September 25th such as Barbara Walters and Will Smith) a birthday party to end all.

Michael kicked off the dinner with a brief welcoming speech and salute to his young bride and she took the microphone to introduce a number of tables of her relatives and pals from Wales. They all stood and sang us a Welsh song.

Catherine said of the decorative seven foot flowering trees dotting the ballroom: “Do you think we went over the top; is it too much? Oh, who gives a shit!” Big laughter.

Soon to star as Desiree in the revival of Steve Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music,” Catherine shuddered when I asked if she had ever seen this famous classic cult musical? “No, and I’m scared to death!” said she, throwing up her hands. But as she won an Oscar for the movie version of “Chicago,” I’m sure she has nothing to worry about.