Broadway’s ‘Funny Girl’ Resurgence Rises In Its Own Parade
To be clear: Many are completely wild for the revival of Funny girl at a performance this reviewer attended. The atmosphere as the audience took their seats made the night of Broadway awe-inspiring. There was plenty of applause through the show (opening Sunday night at the Wilson Theater August, reservations through November 20), and cheers for Beanie Feldstein, who plays Fanny Brice, alongside Ramin Karimloo in as Nick Arnstein, Jane Lynch, who plays Fanny’s mother, and Jared Grimes, a show that stands out for his glittering shooting routine as Eddie, Fanny’s best friend and romantic partner-that -never. The dancers, as in so many Broadway shows and especially this season, are the devoted heart of the performance.
Opening night Sunday falls on Barbra Streisand’s 80th birthday. Of course, Streisand played the proud, ambitious stage diva Fanny Brice in her first Broadway production of 1964 and also played her, opposite Omar Sharif as the romantic gambler Nick, in the 1968 movie.
The show, like the movie, has gorgeous costumes (by Susan Hilferty), it sparkles as usual, but it also has a sense of constant tension about it, a story that freezes and never progresses. , and a central couple in Fanny and Nick who are more confused than at a glance. It’s hard to know what we have to think about them. There is a basic, serviceable chemistry between Feldstein and Karimloo rather than a passionate, fractured relationship, and one that seems more transactional than romantic right from the start. start.
Courtesy, a strangely designed set containing a show’s puzzle. The two sets of stairs on either side of the stage are said to represent Henry Street, the neighborhood where Fanny lived, as well as the stairs of the theater where she performed. In the center of the stage was a brick tower emitting doom, this must have been another building on Henry Street but instead it looked like it might have been hiding machine gunners. The back of this structure is a hollow interior that serves as interchangeable locations, like a restaurant or a luxury home. Once that setting is used up, it will return to face the forbidden sniper tower, or whatever.
“What does Nick Arnstein think of Fanny Brice? Objects of enchantment? Love and cherish? Meal tickets? Either way, he never seemed to be attracted to her. His love gives a feeling of protection, or best of all, brotherhood.”
The performers negotiate this tumultuous period well enough, but not too much of the story’s repetitive hurdles. Karimloo and his sculpted torso (we’re given more than a peek as he wears a strapless dress, so thanks for that) play Arnstein as a fortune teller. luck, and thus inevitably squandering Fanny’s money on conspiracies and gambling that never turns out well.
In a witty, movie-like moment, when they first met Fanny moved away from the story to sing his name like an inner swoon. And he — well, what does Nick Arnstein think of Fanny Brice? Objects of enchantment? Love and cherish? Meal tickets? Either way, he never seemed to be attracted to her. His love gives a feeling of protection, or best of all, brotherhood. He gave her a cute blue egg.
Given that the show was an endlessly painful ski run for Fanny and Nick, the joy of Funny girl to the rest of the company, Ellenore Scott’s company choreography and Ayodele Casel’s tap choreography, especially for the excellent Grimes. Lynch is as good as Fanny’s mom but not enough for someone with her comic talent. You can hear the gear grinding to the scene.
At first, pairing Fanny and Nick seems like a bad idea, and the plot never makes this point clear to us or to ourselves. We know that opposites attract, but the two are hard to distinguish from their respective signs — she is a working-class matchmaker, he is a gambler and loves to travel. calendar. It doesn’t matter that both Feldstein and Karimloo are glamorous performers. They don’t seem sure what they are supposed to chart here. The idea is that each person has a kind of “mature pride” that “hides all needs within,” as Fanny sings in “People,” but here the two seem completely independent. They share a phase but not a relationship. They can’t seem to be together, even though the idea of being together for no apparent reason, is a good one for them.
“The people who need you are the luckiest people in the world,” Fanny sings in that hit song — and it’s like a lament, because she really doesn’t. Nick makes her feel beautiful, she says, but she, from the start, seems to dismiss all societal standards as saying she’s not as pretty as other women. The story never unravels its own contradictions — about what Fanny does or doesn’t feel about beauty, about career and domestic ambitions, about Nick’s motives, about what attracts him. coming to Fanny in the first place, about what they feel or don’t feel for each other — or explain them.
Fanny wanted to be famous but not much because she wanted her marriage to work, so she made it clear from the start that she would give up the stage if she had to. But this doesn’t match her desire to act, perform, or live the life she so desperately desires. Yes, she can and should contain many things, but the musical never explicitly states how.
Fanny protests to Florenz Ziegfeld (Peter Francis James) that she wants a personal life more than a career. That’s why she followed Nick to New York at the crucial moment — and she’ll turn it into a relationship the same way she made her performing career by sheer willpower, as she did. she made it clear in “Don’t Rain on my Parade.”
With no tangible relationship between Feldstein’s Fanny and Karimloo’s Nick, the show revolved around the common idea that they weren’t such a great pair for over two and a half hours. Luckily, there’s Grimes, and glitzy singing-dancing segments to fill in what else is a dull relationship storyline that feels low on stakes, emotional imports, and what it’s like. we watched from the beginning is sure to finish.
Feldstein seemed like a junior partner to Karimloo – more of a sassy person than a grimacing diva. Streisand is clearly an intimidating shadow to work with, and the comparisons are unfair but inevitable given the iconic nature of the role and its underpinning star. Feldstein’s vocals match her portrayal of Brice, in questioning, probing and eye-opening. She plays key roles in big songs but is more limited than many might expect.
The show feels like a series of strictly executed installations — with one person going there and that person staying, take a deep breath, are we all standing where we are? So great!—Other than the smooth story. Its best scenes showcase Feldstein and Karimloo’s vividly combined comic energy, best seen in the nervous dinner scene where he somehow flips from floor to sofa and when they beautifully sing “You Are Woman, I Am Man” (witty redirected to give Fanny strength).
“Nick is not a cheater, just a weakling; Fanny is not an overbearing partner, just loyal. And we have it, again and again.”
In general, however, they seem sociable and calm as a couple. He considers the poker game more important than her opening night and gets angry at her when she helps him financially. There are dry oil wells and fake bond deals, and finally prisons. The show left the audience with the problem of not really having anyone to cheer for, or charge for. They’re clearly a mismatched couple, and we’re forced to spend an evening with them, without any sense of their union. They have a child whose presence is hinted at at random. Nick is not a cheater, just a weakling; Fanny is not an overbearing partner, just loyal. And we have it, again and again.
Then the quiz about Funny girl and the problem of “beauty.” Henry Street’s neighbor Mrs. Strakosh (Toni DiBuono excels in this 2022 revival) was the first to mess with Fanny’s looks, and you think: why? What’s wrong with Fanny’s looks? Similarly, in the movie of Funny girlBarbra Streisand looks amazing, and so there’s always a tension when two of Fanny’s physical aspects – nose and skinny legs – considered attractive – fall short.
In this 2022 revival, in the first few minutes of Funny girl, and in particular in one custom, Feldstein’s form is implicitly assumed to resemble an indistinct knockout, as she looks so different from the other (thinner) female dancers on stage, who mocked her at first. However, as in Streisand’s Funny girl, Feldstein’s Brice calls herself at the beginning: “Hi, gorgeous!” while looking in the mirror. She spoke as if she meant it, as she should.
However, the show downplayed her looks. Despite his self-affirming “Hi, gorgeous,” Fanny made it clear to Nick that he made her feel beautiful — which drowned out all the negativity she’d instilled over the years from her teenage years. others. The assertion he made might seem overwhelming to her, but she also doesn’t seem to be openly tortured by her looks. Why does she see Nick asserting her looks if she asserts them herself? Perhaps men who reassure women of their own aesthetic value seem very seductive the rest of the days. In the context of Funny girl staged until now, it sounds pointless and cringe.
It’s not the only thing about Funny girl feels like a waste of time. It seems odd that much of the second half focuses on Nick’s shame over losing his money, as well as characters including Fanny herself commenting on how she should address his weaknesses. (emotional and economic).
“What have I done for you, honey? What did I give you that you couldn’t get for yourself? ” Nick asked Fanny at the end Funny girl.
A daughter, whose gift was a blue egg, Fanny said, “And you made me feel almost…so…beautiful.”
“You are beautiful,” he said.
There it is again, beauty bursting out without a consistent plot underpinning it, and just as has happened in the past few hours, a song recounts the strange stalemate being resolved, in the school. This case is an ending song by Fanny of “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
Streisand’s “My Man”, which closes the film, gives the plot a proper ending, a diva and a better choice of songs. However, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is a traditional musical that is closer to the stage and gets everyone’s applause and cheers as expected, but that’s also — sadly a lot in Funny girl 2022 — empty ring.
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