By Jacqueline Monahan
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She’s Joan, with one “a”, she’s Barbra, with two; but, to her many fans, she’s Barbara, with three.

Barbara Brighton 4267
Barbara Brighton
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Barbara Brighton wears many hats; you just can’t see them.  And anyway, they’d mess up her hair.

The actress and singer-comedienne sparkles in personality and bling-y ensembles.  A Boston native, she studied ballet, jazz dancing and piano before becoming a music major at the University of Florida. Broadway beckoned and Brighton answered the call, appearing on stage in such highly acclaimed productions as How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Camelot, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Sugar (Some Like It Hot), Damn Yankees, and Milk and Honey (her very first).
Hollywood and television work ensued. General Hospital, The Next Best Thing (reality show) Hart to Hart, Archie Bunker’s Place, MTV’s hard Times of RJ Berger, and Superior Court featured Brighton appearances.  She’s even hosted her own cable talk show in Los Angeles and toured Australia, Japan, South America, Canada, and Indonesia. She’s done cruises, corporate, and Catskills (remember Dirty Dancing?  THAT kind of showroom).

“You have to reinvent yourself,” the versatile Brighton will tell you off-stage, before entering the spotlight with a familiar “Can We Talk?” channeling the late, great Joan Rivers.  She has been called “Florida’s answer to Joan Rivers before surgery” and the jokes come with an extra helping of chutzpah.   The dynamic Brighton inhabits the persona of the brash icon, regaling her audience with jokes that can raise a blush or a belly laugh in equal measure.

Topics range from aging, sagging, cosmetic surgery, single women, dating older guys, dating younger guys, and a penis joke involving Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson.  Make no mistake, the diminutive blond is no kid and her act is playfully adult, and sometimes Jewish (if God wanted me to bend over he’d put diamonds on the floor).

Frequently interacting directly with the audience – “Is anybody there? What did you do when you were alive?” – Brighton confesses that she’s on a diet, trying to get back to her original weight – 7 lbs. 4 oz. – and that you can find her on  Did you hear the one about the Jewish cowgirl?  I’ll let Brighton fill you in, but it’s a one-liner sung to the tune of the Bonanza theme.

The jokes are the gooey caramel center of a candy bar whose velvety, chocolate shell is made of songs and show tunes. 

Barbara Brighton 4260
Barbara Brighton
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Brighton carries her own soundtrack around with her, introducing each number before starting the music.  Moments later, the vocals follow.  Her repertoire includes standards like The Start of Something Big, All That Jazz, What I Did for Love, her signature tune, This Is My Life, and a whole lotta Streisand/Funny Girl numbers (Don’t Rain on My Parade, People, Second Hand Rose, and the show stopping I’m the Greatest Star).  When she sings this one, you believe her.  More Streisand follows with Brighton’s heartfelt version of The Way We Were.
Ending with the somber I Who Have Nothing (a Tom Jones hit) Brighton is a study in opposites.  In terms of talent, she has done it all and can still do it.  Although singing about having nothing might end the show, it does not define the singer-comedienne-actress and her many skills.

In fact, the impression you get is, “She’s really something.”

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