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Barabara Brighton as Joan Rivers

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is an accomplished actress as well as a singer-comedienne. Her television stints include GENERAL HOSPITAL, MTV’S HARD TIMES OF RJ BERGER, THE NEXT BEST THING, HART TO HART, ARCHIE BUNKER’S PLACE and SUPERIOR COURT, as well as a number of pilots for the television networks.
In LOS ANGELES, she produced and hosted her own television talk show “THE BARBARA BRIGHTON SHOW” for three years on cable. The show was an insightful look at celebrities, attorneys, psychologists, journalists, and political figures.
She has been called “Florida’s answer to JOAN RIVERS BEFORE SURGERY” and has re-invented herself as one of the top stand up comediennes to emerge on the current scene and travels all over the country as a top tribute artist and look-a-like as the one and only JOAN RIVERS for many corporate functions and cruises.
BARBARA grew up in Boston where she studied ballet, jazz dancing and piano. She later went on to become a music major at the University of Florida. Blessed with a wonderful voice, it wasn’t long before she started her very successful singing career. Her singing and acting abilities took her to BROADWAY, where she appeared in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, CAMELOT, THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, MILK AND HONEY, and recently a tour of SUGAR (“SOME LIKE IT HOT”).
LAS VEGAS saw Barbara appear at the DESERT INN and CAESAR’S PALACE. She has also done tours in Australia, Japan, South America and Indonesia.

Variety Shows, Performers Thrive in Florida
By Jenny Staletovich

Barbara Brighton has appeared on Broadway and General Hospital, had a talk show and traveled the world performing her cabaret act. So when she arrived at the Ramada Plaza Marco Polo for an evening performance and discovered she was booked for the dining room, she pulls a diva.

''Oh God,'' she moans, half-jokingly. ``I'm playing a dining room. One day I'm on television. The next day I'm in a dining room. Can you believe it?''

There was a time when acts like Brighton's -- a little singing, a few raunchy jokes and a lot of personality -- filled night clubs and hotels in Miami Beach. Lena Horne played the Eden Roc, Desi Arnaz did the Biltmore, and Ann Margret serenaded the Fontainebleau's Gigi Room. Today, the venues aren't so big or glamorous, and the audience may doze a little toward the end of an act. But there's still a surprising demand for the variety performer.

In a single day, Brighton will play a lunch at the Township on Copans Road and the Marco Polo in Sunny Isles Beach after dinner. Later in the week, she does her Joan Rivers act for a bar mitzvah at the Mizner Country Club in Boca Raton and a luncheon for Ort. At the end of the month, she'll perform on a Sea Escape cruise before heading to Los Angeles for a concert at Laguna Woods -- L.A.'s version of Century Village -- and a theater opening in Palm Springs.

Normally Brighton would play the 650-seat Persian Room at the Marco Polo, where Hal Linden and Jackie Mason have played. But the Golden Beach City Council, in the throes of a scandal over its city manager calling her black secretary a mammy, has booked it for the night.

Brighton shrugs. That's show business. She's had somebody die in the audience just before a performance, so this is a cakewalk. After adjusting her black-sequined jacket and squaring herself on the small platform arranged as a stage at one end of the dining room, she belts out All That Jazz as if the curtain just went up at Caesars.

In this business, Brighton has learned improvisation isn't just a stage act.

''In order to stay alive, you have to reinvent yourself and be accessible for whatever the market wants. If they want me to be Beyonce, I'll be Beyonce,'' she said.

It's a lesson this segment of the entertainment industry is trying to learn. When the audiences who love Sammy Davis Jr. and Mickey Rooney got too old to hit the clubs, the industry took the shows to the condos and the cruise ships. Performers found corporate functions looking for entertainment and bar mitzvahs in need of a Joan Rivers look-alike. Producers are also searching for new acts that can bring in younger audiences.

''The market is starving for entertainers,'' Brighton said. ``That's why we move from New York to L.A. to this area because there is a market.''

Brighton grew up in the shadows of the big Beach hotels. When she was about 13 her father, who trained greyhound dogs, moved the family to Miami. She studied music at the University of Florida before moving to New York and performing in Camelot, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and other Broadway shows. Brighton lived at the Rehearsal Club for Women, with Blythe Danner and the Rockettes, upon which the 1937 film Stage Door was based.

After 10 plays, Brighton hit the road, traveling to Canada, Japan and Australia, where she had a hit song, This Is My Life. Then she headed to L.A. to break into television and got a stint as the intensive care nurse on General Hospital from 1980 to 1983, had a cable-syndicated talk show and did a commercial with Brad Garrett, pre-Everybody Loves Raymond. In 1993, she returned to Florida where she discovered the condo-cruise ship-corporate gig circuit.

''It's a wonderful market for variety performers,'' she said.

On stage, her personality seems to fit. She says she works on her jokes constantly, watching lots of television and reading papers.

Her jokes are bawdy and political.

In one, a husband complains that he's getting Social Security sex. What's that? ''I get a little each month but not enough to live on. Thank you, George Bush!'' Ba-da boom.

She tells another about Osama bin Laden finding a genie in a bottle. The genie begs him to make a wish. So bin Laden says he wants to wake up the next morning with three American women in his bed.

''The next day he wakes up with Lorena Bobbitt, Tonya Harding and Hillary Clinton. His penis was gone. His knees were broken, and he had no health insurance. God is good!'' Ba-da boom.

At the end of the night the audience happily thanked Brighton and Brighton is happy for the work.