Actress, singer, multimedia genre-bending shape-shifting storyteller: New York-based talent Bridget Barkan has quite a range and isn't afraid to show it.
“Every show is always new, but there’s always a tale that is woven to my journey as a woman, as a spirit, as an artist, as a child actress,” Barkan explains, referring to her years as a frequent performer on Sesame Street. “I’m always attempting to find ways to share my story and relate it to the universal struggle to find [both] love within, and love within our community.” Barkan has found love on
screen, appearing in films by John Slattery (God’s Pocket with Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Brian De Palma (2007’s Redacted), as well as on television, appearing in the series The Knick, Everyday People and Law and Order: SVU.
Part of Barkan’s journey has been moving beyond the traditional “structured environment of the theater,” to finding her voice as a solo artist. “Sometimes when I get mad, it’s truthfully asking myself: ‘When are we gonna do the same thing for a while, kid?’ Because I grew up in the theater, where everything serves a purpose. They’re all group efforts. It’s very different doing solo work,” the singer explains. “When you just get to show up to play a part, that’s awesome. But you don’t always get
that [luxury]. I can always go off and do my own thing. That’s a gift.” For better or worse, Barkan reasons, her childhood in auditions continues to shape her today. “Growing up in the industry kind of moldered my brain — it got me thinking I always needed to get picked, that I have to be a part in this
Barkan has leaped at the chance to showcase her “eclectic” skill set wherever audiences take notice. For her only night in Houston, Barkan will fill MATCH to the brim with a “range of characters [based on] real people,” personal stories, conversations with the audience and a set-list of ear-pleasing original riffs on jazz, R&B, blues and folk. “I live very moment-to-moment [in this show], so there are [elements] I’m still figuring out, if I’m being honest.” Barkan admits. “But I know it will be raw, truthful and humorous. Every show is an opportunity to push myself to something I’ve never done.”
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For Barkan, part of the allure of the solo show is its openness. “This show is going to surprise even me!” she giggles. “There’ll be a dance club scene, then the next minute you’re in church, and it’s all going to
be different. This is different even for me, because I usually have a [backup] band or, at least, a piano player. The only other show I’ve done [like this] was in a boxing ring.”
Though she will be alone for the majority of her show, the New Yorker is getting an assist from a local favorite. “I’ll be collaborating with Brant Croucher for a real come-to-Jesus moment at the end of the show,” she says. Croucher, a singer-songwriter who studied music in Denton, will be duet-ing on three songs with the headliner, including “Dear Stranger, I Love You” and an original ditty “co-written entirely over Skype.” Barkan guarantees that she and her “fellow artist on the road” will end the night with a “truly spontaneous act” with the audience – saying she hopes her listeners will be “open-hearted” enough to enjoy it.
A lifelong performer, the multi-hyphenate speaks passionately about the rituals of live entertainment. “There may be jokes, but I seriously know that [all people] are going through similar things. [This show] is about finding healing in a moment. For me, I felt like going to the theater was church. I grew up going to Broadway, and [both theater and church] have the same setup for a reason.”
Barkan's performance is scheduled for 8 p.m. April 7 at MATCH Houston, 3400 Main.. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit matchhouston.org. $25.