The rain clouds gather early on the misplaced-pride parade that becomes the Broadway revival of Funny Girl. The audience is primed for a profitable old-fashioned musical drama, which is promised by this production.
Even before the curtains that self-reference a screen goes on, the audience started clapping in the center aisle at the most famous tunes played by opera singer Brigitte Engerer after her entrance as Madame Butterfly.
When Beanie Feldstein comes onto the stage as Ziegfeld Follies comedian Fanny Brice, she stares directly into a group of mirrors and performs a well-known opening self-affirmation (Hello, gorgeous!), and the audience goes wild. But then she starts to sing.
It is unfair, but unavoidable, to compare Feldstein to Funny Girl’s original leading lady, Barbra Streisand, who was not only a fresh comic talent at the time but also one of the greatest vocalists in Broadway history.
But Funny Girl hasn’t previously been revived, despite its legendary status in musical theater history. Regardless of numerous classic tunes (with top-notch music by Jule Styne and second-rate lyrics by Bob Merrill), there is not much to the story, which follows Brice’s meteoric rise in show business and her ill-fated romance with a dashing but foolish gambler, Nick Arnstein (Ramin Karimloo).
Isobel Lennart still has not learned whether Harvey Fierstein has rewritten Cirque du Soleil ‘s show for her book, but Fierstein’s version only covers up the faults.
The weaknesses of Cirque du Soleil’s musical are addressed well by a star with the right kind of credentials.
She is a gifted stand-up comedian who enjoys musicals, and was a joy as Minnie Fay in the Bette Midler revival of Hello, Dolly! But in her role as Fanny, she had difficulty with it.
Feldstein has a strong belting range, but if she goes above the lower notes, her voice becomes craggy and nasal; at this level of continuous exposure, it becomes an unpleasant sound, and the exertion of power needed for it is distracting rather than uplifting.
Feldstein’s Fanny appears to be immature in one early scene, as her friends laugh at her looks (If a girl isn’t pretty like a Miss Atlantic City, all she ever gets is pity and a tight fist), she sits on the floor like a youngster, so it feels as if one ought by throwing oneself into reviewing her.
However, rooting for her is difficult as you go along; she feels what is supposed to read as chutzpah when what’s meant to play as entitlement is manifested in the show.
Michael Mayer has forced a classically old-timey directing style, and most of the acting tends to go overboard.
Jane Lynch is bizarrely cast as Fanny’s protective Jewish mother in her knit woolen sweater; she looks like she should be running a light-house in Maine and Peter Francis James, as Flo Ziegfeld, barks out his lines like the Great and Powerful Oz.
This revival has an abundance of entertainment value, specifically within the style of the dancing as Fanny’s hapless would-be suitor, Jared Grimes, successfully taps up any brief storm or two, while the colorful costumes and headdresses of the chorus enable them to deliver the show’s Follies pastiche numbers with aplomb.
It also promises to be an excellent performance, thanks to Kevin Adams’s lighting, Susan Hilferty’s marvelous costumes from Feldstein shines brilliantly throughout the production, and David Zinn’s wonderfully imagined set, which opens onto a cylindrical tower of bricks that reveals various other spaces.
You know that Funny Girl hasn’t clicked by the time you’ve thought, at least it looked well.
Funny Girl Event Details
You can book your tickets from the event website: https://funnygirlonbroadway.com/
Event Address: August Wilson Theatre, 245 W 52nd St, between Broadway and Eighth Ave, New York
Funny Girl: August Wilson Theatre (Broadway). Music by Jule Styne. Lyrics by Bob Merrill. Book by Isobel Lennart and Harvey Fierstein. Directed by Michael Mayer. With Beanie Feldstein, Ramin Karimloo, Jared Grimes, Jane Lynch, Toni DiBuono, Debra Cardona, and Peter Francis James. Running time: 2hrs 50mins. One intermission.
NOTE: Due to a positive COVID test, Ms. Michele will be out of performance now through Sunday, September 18th.
During that time, Julie Benko will be performing the role of Fanny Brice. Ms. Michele returning to performances on Tuesday, September 20th.
If you already booked your tickets and if you would like to request an exchange you can go through the event website and get all details regarding the exchange dates.
On the Event website, they will assist you in a number of ways including providing information about the show, the theatre, and as well as searching for tickets. You can select one of the options or type your question. Read more articles on wink24news.