Enter Barbra Streisand’s Basement Mall in ‘Buyer and Cellar’
Celebrities are just like us! Well, except when they’re not. Take Barbra Streisand, for instance. Did you know that she has a mall built under her house with shops designed to look like cute old-fashioned storefronts? Oh, there’s nothing for sale there. The whole thing exists solely to house and display her collections of everything from dolls to costumes to souvenirs from her career. And if you’re very nice, and she’s invited you down to visit, there’s even a candy store that will serve you ice cream.
But what would happen if someone worked there? That’s what playwright Jonathan Tolins poses in his one-man comedy “Buyer and Cellar,” in which out-of-work actor Alex More takes a job manning the shops after he’s fired from Disneyland.
Doug Atkins plays the role at Main Street Theater, where the play is running July 14-Aug. 12, and TodayTix caught up with him to talk about how he prepared for the role, what he would display in a personal mall, and, of course, Barbra Streisand.
Let’s start with the obvious question. Are you a fan of Barbra Streisand?
Much like Alex, I was not a huge “Barbra Queen” before I started this piece. I had grown up with my mom’s copy of “Barbra: The Concert” from 1994, and I had seen her in the films of “Funny Girl” and “Hello, Dolly!” But thanks to this show, I am a true fan now. My favorite thing she’s ever done is “Yentl” – and even more specifically: the last note on “A Piece of Sky” gives me chills. If I ever met her, I would thank her for everything she’s done, and then I would LOVE to pick her brain about current events.
You played this role in another production a couple years ago. Are you preparing differently, or is your approach to the role the same this time round?
Absolutely it’s different! This is my first time in two years revisiting this show. I’m two years older and maybe one and a half years wiser. Since the lines have been living and maturing with me, I’m excited to collaborate with the director and work on some new things.
What are the joys and challenges of doing a one-man show?
When the writing is great, like this one is, it really can be a vehicle to showcase who you are and what your true strengths are. Also, every bit of applause is just for you! The biggest challenge lies in the fact that it is simply you up there. If you lose your place, you are your only scene partner. You really have to figure out how to navigate your way through the piece every single night.
Who is this show for and what do you want audiences to take away?
This show truly is for everyone. There is something for every walk of life to take away. The voice may be LGBT-based, but this show explores aspects of relationships everyone can relate to.
In the play, your character is fired from Disneyland. Have you ever been let go?
No, actually! My parents raised me to have a strong work ethic, which I am incredibly thankful for. There was one job working phones at a healthcare company, though, when it was “recommended I resign.” I PROMPTLY wrote that letter!
If you were going to make a museum of your stuff, what would be in it?
It would predominately feature pictures of my two miniature dachshunds, my family, partner, and friends. I would also have a library wing for all of my favorite plays and books. There would be a food court featuring Italian food, and I would have a wall with note cards where everyone could write what they would want to see in their version of utopia.