Beanie Feldstein shines as Fanny Brice in Star-studded Revival

Funny girl returns to Broadway for the first time since 1967, when the original production took their last bows. The star-studded revival is the headline of Golden Globe nominees Beanie Feldstein like Fanny Brice, who ushered in a new era of funny girls everywhere, with all the heart, passion and sense that makes this one of the most beloved classical musicals.

Seen in New York City, after World War I, Funny girl opens on Vaudeville actress Fanny Brice, now the main name, while she waits in her locker room to go on stage for the latest issue of Ziegfeld’s Follies. But her focus is not on her upcoming appearance, no, she’s reminded of the “ghosts” of her past while awaiting the return of her husband, Nicky Arnstein, from prison. She asks if he has been called, and of course he has not. But the seriousness of all this only comes into full swing in the second act. First, Beanie Feldstein must love the audience and sweep them up in the heartwarming – and heartbreaking – growing story imbued with show-biz, romance and soul-stirring tap-dance tracks.


Fanny Brice, a role created by Barbra Streisand, would always be a difficult role to fill, but Feldstein is all that this role needed. Who needs spotlights when her eager enthusiasm lights up the stage every time she dances across it? If the audience were unsure of her cast, they would be just as happy as Florenz Ziegfeld to discover that she is actually the biggest star. And she also has at least thirty-six expressions! As the play progresses, and Fanny transforms from a naive, hopeless romantic of an ingénue to a dull yet optimistic wife and mother, Feldstein applies these subtle changes in the physicality of her appearance. She no longer walks across the stage with youthful abundance or loves with wide-open arms; her posture stiffens, she is more guarded with her devotion, and though she never loses her unshakable belief that she can fix things, she learns that she can only really control her own destiny.

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For the best part of the first act, Fanny’s two most important stage partners are her devoted and delightfully overbearing mother, Mrs. Brice (Jane Lynch), and her friend and fellow spy Eddie Ryan (Jared Grimes). Jane Lynch is an absolute revelation in this role. While most of her musical theater’s adjacent fame comes from her time Gleefans of The wonderful Mrs. Maisel will feel like they spent two and a half hours with Sophie Lennon. And while it would have been preferable for a Jewish actress, like Feldstein, to have been cast in the role of Mrs. Brice, she balances the performance without playing too far into stereotypes.

Grimes, who is also recording the final season of Manifesto, brings all his charm and charisma into the role of Eddie. He can act! He can sing! And oh, he can dance. He brings to life the awe-inspiring and toe-cutting choreography of the world-famous tap dancer Ayodele Casel, whose work takes this resuscitation to a whole other level. With Eddie, there is a boundary that can be easily crossed and that makes his long-suffering and clearly unhappy worship of Fanny tiring, but Grimes never crosses that boundary. There is a clear point of understanding and friendship with their relationship which feels natural and easy. Even if you do not necessarily mess with them as she pursues playboy gambler Nicky Arnstein, Grimes and Feldstein make you anxious for the next time they get teased and hammer it up on stage together.

I was obviously not present to testify about the esteemed greatness of the original Broadway crew of Funny girlbut I grew up loving the film adaptation that starred Streisand and Omar Sharif and it is, in my opinion, a harsh act to follow. But for the last ten years, I had been hoping for the final and inevitable Funny girl revival would throw one man, and only one man, into the role. And they did. Ramin Karimloo is effortless to hand out the charm and attraction that attracts Fanny Brice and makes her willing to even consider giving up her career.

Nicky is not a bad guy, despite being a jerk who sometimes cheats people for their money. When he and Fanny commit to their relationship, he stays – despite warning her that none of this is in his nature. He’s the type of guy who comes and goes out of a woman’s life, he’s not the type to get stuck or show up for every opening night. Despite all his mistakes, he really loves and cares about Fanny, and that’s what makes the result of their relationship so much more bittersweet. That Funny girl resuscitation makes it hard not to fall a little bit in love with Nicky, as Fanny does – which is evident by the outrageous applause that Karimloo received every time he finished singing (or dancing). Feldstein and Karimloo bring the same kind of dynamite chemistry that Streisand and Sharif shared, and which still makes people revisit the film. If Hamilton can get a professional recording, I start the campaign for a professional recording of Funny girl right now.

The Revival set is something to really marvel at, and I wish the cast could have been less distracting in their brilliant performance so I could really take in all the aspects of Henry Street, Follies and the fine restaurant backroom that Nicky is courting for Fanny i. The turntable was a stroke of genius on behalf of this production that allowed them to keep things constantly in motion while set pieces were flown into stage transitions. The costume design caught my eye several times, especially with the way Fanny is dressed in rich jewel tones before her wedding, and after returning in the violence of marital bliss, she is dressed in bright pastels like a flower picked from a spring bouquet.

The revival of Funny girl was made under the direction of the Tony Award winner Michael Mayerwith Isobel Lennart‘s original book is being revised by the Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein. The awe-inspiring brilliance of the production was pulled together by an award-winning series of creatives scenic designer David Zinncustomer Susan Hilfertylighting designer Kevin Adamsand sound designer Brian Ronan. In addition to Casel’s unforgettable tap choreography, Funny girl contains choreography of Ellenore Scott. Winner of the Emmy Award Micahel Rafter was given the task of music management and supervision, while Chris Walker provided the orchestrations of the classic score by Tony, Grammy and the Oscar winner Jule Styne, and lyrics by Tony Award nominee and Grammy Award winner Bob Merrill.

While Feldstein, Lynch, Karimloo and Grimes may be main names, the ensemble is off Funny girl is also filled with shining stars, i.a. Afra Hines, Alicia Hadiya Lundgren, Colin Bradbury, Stephen Mark Lukasand Daniel Beeman. With a glittering production that has so many moving pieces – literally – it’s crucial that they have an ensemble ensemble that lifts the performances around them.

Funny girl is just the musical we need right now. One that embraces the joys and pains of growing up and growing apart while embracing the beauty that comes from being a fun girl like Fanny Brice.

Funny girl now playing at the August Wilson Theater | Playing time: 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Evaluation: ONE

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