Color Me Barbra followed on March 30, 1966 and is, naturally, filmed in color. The first sequence was shot at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with Streisand wandering among the masterworks and antiquities, even singing "Where or When" dressed as Nefertiti. Next she's among a circus of animals, singing "Try to remember" to the elephant or poking fun at herself by telling the anteater "We have so much in common." Again, the final act is her just singing at a mike, with "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" and "It Had to Be You." Making its home-video debut, The Belle of 14th Street (October 11, 1967) is something of an oddity. It's styled like a vaudeville show, with period costumes (including the audience) and old-time numbers. Jason Robards (singing and dancing!), John Bubbles, and others guest-star. Streisand plays a modest stripper for "Alice Blue Gown," plays an operatic diva for "Liebestraum," then does double duty as a boy (pre-Yentl) in the audience invited to sing a duet of "Mother Macree" with the on-stage Streisand. The last segment is Streisand singing (accompanied on stage by David Shire before he wrote shows on Broadway with Richard Maltby) such songs as "My Melancholy Baby," "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," and a medley that includes "My Buddy" and "How About Me?"
The highlight of the collection, A Happening in Central Park (September 15, 1968) is refreshingly free of gimmicks and concepts. It's just Streisand with an orchestra in front of a live New York audience. "The Nearness of You," "Cry Me a River," "I Can See It," "Second Hand Rose" (the audience enjoys singing along)," "People," and "Happy Days Are Here Again." Barbra Streisand... and Other Musical Instruments (November 2, 1973) returns to the concept-show format. Streisand takes her place among the symphony orchestra members sporting her own instrument: her voice. One medley groups a number of favorite songs but in "international" settings, such as "People" accompanied by sitar and "Don't Rain on My Parade" by bagpipe band, and Streisand changes costumes to match. Ray Charles is on hand for four songs in the second set, then Streisand returns to the orchestra to sing such songs as "On a Clear Day" and "The Sweetest Sounds."
Picture quality is good, and sound is presented in original mono, 2.0 stereo, and 5.1 surround. The only bonus features are three introductions Streisand filmed for the 1987 home-video releases, but the set is beautifully packaged with a detailed booklet of liner notes, photos, and song lists. The five 50+-minute programs are ungenerously spread over five discs, however. --David Horiuchi