Just two years after enlisting the likes of John Mayer and Billy Joel for her album Partners,Barbra Streisand is back with another collection of duets.
For Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway (*** out of four), the music icon recruits a stable of tried-and-true stage vets for modern takes on classic show tunes, from Patrick Wilson singing Stephen Sondheim’s Loving You from Passion to Hugh Jackman performingAny Moment Now, a song previously cut from Smile.
But there are also plenty of musical pairings you may not have expected from Babs’ latest. We pick some of our favorites:
At the Ballet (with Anne Hathaway and Daisy Ridley)
In the lead-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ release last year, Ridley’s co-stars fondly recalled her penchant for singing on set, and Ridley herself told The Hollywood Reporterthat she is “desperate to do a musical.” We wish the same thing for the 24-year-old breakout after hearing her raw, emotive turn in this A Chorus Line classic, in which she assumes the role of Bebe. Hathaway and Streisand beautifully take on other audition hopefuls in this enchanting album opener, which is at its best when the three harmonize on the song’s aching refrain.
Anything You Can Do Better (Melissa McCarthy)
Encore occasionally stumbles in its stilted, fictional dialogue, such as Streisand and McCarthy feigning shock that they’ve both been cast in the same role. Their ham-handed exchange sets up this brassy Annie Get Your Gun showstopper: originally written as a duet between a man and woman but updated with refreshingly feminist lyrics. “We were underrated, teased and deprecated,” they chime, “but we sent ’em reeling through the glass ceiling.” McCarthy proves herself a capable singer in this playful toe-to-toe, although we still could’ve done without the Bridesmaids and Meet the Fockers references.
Pure Imagination (with Seth MacFarlane)
MacFarlane’s vocal prowess should come as no surprise, whether you’ve heard his myriad jazz albums or even his controversial “We Saw Your Boobs” routine at the 2013 Academy Awards. But the Family Guy creator has never sounded better as he whistles and sings with Streisand on this haunting standard from 1971’s WillyWonka & the Chocolate Factory, accompanied by a lush orchestra.
I’ll Be Seeing You / I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face (with Chris Pine)
The greatest surprise of Encore is without a doubt Pine, whom we last heard as a delusional, lovesick prince in Disney’s big-screen version of Sondheim’s Into the Woods. But while his tongue was planted firmly in cheek for that film’s scene-stealing Agony, his smooth, buttery croon on this swoony mashup could easily be mistaken for that of Michael Bublé’s or Harry Connick Jr.’s. Get this man a lounge act, stat.
Climb Ev’ry Mountain (with Jamie Foxx)
Encore‘s pinnacle begins with a few inspiring words from Streisand about taking chances, following one’s dreams and the patience it takes to achieve them. Foxx then launches into a heartfelt take on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s stirring The Sound of Music ballad. His soulful riffs and runs elegantly complement Babs’ more restrained delivery, which remains as pitch-perfect and affecting as it was when people first fell in love with the Funny Girl five decades ago.