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Absolutely Simply Barbra 

Steven Brinberg becomes Babs

Steven Brinberg's Web site,, claims that Brinberg has "been doing his Streisand for so long, he's better at it than she is!" After ten years of imitating Barbra Streisand in voice and body, Brinberg even has some admirers from Babs' camp.

Marvin Hamlisch gushes (on the same site) that "When you first hear Steven's Simply Barbra CD, for the first brief moment you almost think, 'My God! Is that really her?' It's so captivating! Not only does he have a wonderful take on her -- not at all mean-spirited -- and this ability to imitate her, he also captures a lot of moments and nuances that are terrific. It was very impressive."

When Brinberg takes the stage at the Sheldon Concert Hall (8 p.m. Thursday, July 31, and Friday, August 1, $25-$50, 314-534-1111, 3648 Washington Avenue) as part of Chris Jackson's Summer Cabaret Series, you'll hear Streisand favorites old and new performed by a fella in an evening gown, wig and makeup.

Folks are in agreement that Brinberg sounds like Streisand, but does he play it straight between the songs, too? The imitator says he "pokes fun at her frosty image and reputation, but not her looks," and adds that his act is "all done with great affection and you can tell I'm a great fan." In fact, he adds, "it makes me very happy to know that even just for a moment I can have someone feel or think that they're watching her."

For the record, Brinberg isn't obsessed with Barbra. At least, he says, he's less obsessed now than he was when he started this gig. "I still see every new movie and say, well, Barbra could have been in that," he admits, though. "The Hulk -- Barbra could have been in that." -- Byron Kerman

Run for the Borders

The mercury is skyrocketing, the humidity is like the bathroom after a shower and you're struggling to "beat the heat." Maybe your air conditioning's out, or maybe you don't have air conditioning at all. Or perhaps you're sick of strategically arranging fans so that they promote airflow from one end of the apartment to the other. Don't sweat it anymore. Head down to your nearest mega-chain bookstore and hang out all day, for free, in their luxurious A/C. Grab a stack of books, plop your butt down on their couch and read all day. As long as you don't make a lot of noise, it's unlikely that you'll get kicked out. Let corporate America pay for the air-conditioning. -- Guy Gray

Wild Blue Yonder

THUR 7/31

The love children of Devo and Smurfette have arrived. When Chris Wink, Phil Stanton and Matt Goldman first put their heads together, they turned to shiny blue goo. Now, Blue Man Group is going where Laurie Anderson and the Residents have never gone before: UMB Bank Pavilion (I-70 at the Earth City Expressway, 8 p.m., $17.50-$42). BMG is a dynamic performance-art phenomenon and an otherworldly connection to the wide-eyed outsider in all of us. Though nightly shows in Boston, Chicago, New York and Las Vegas sell out, BMG are not sell-outs. Though the tour is titled The Complex Rock Tour; the show's themes are simple. To invest in the world's most impressive applications of grease paint and PVC pipes, call 314-241-1888. -- Mallarie Zimmer

My God It's Full of Stars

The Farce is strong this weekend when the Tivoli's Reel Late film series resumes with the cosmic flapdoodle Spaceballs. Perhaps the most underrated film in the Mel Brooks canon, Spaceballs targets everything sacrosanct and silly in galaxies far, far away and movies not so long ago.

When not looking for the Keymaster, dippy Rick Moranis anchors this mockfest by fighting good as Lord Dark Helmet.

Buffoonery abounds with support from Bill Pullman, Daphne Zuniga, John Candy and asinine last gasps of fame by JM J. Bullock and Dick Van Patten. May the Schwartz be with you! (Midnight Fridays and Saturdays through August 9, at the Tivoli Theater, 6350 Delmar Boulevard, 314-862-1100.) -- Rob Levy

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