Oscar E Moore

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FUNNY GIRL – a mediocre, cut and paste patchwork quilt revisal

April 29th, 2022 by Oscar E Moore

For this we waited 58 years to see back on Broadway?!  Summer Stock is alive and faltering at the August Wilson Theatre where this extremely disappointing revisal of FUNNY GIRL has recently opened.

OK.  Beanie Feldstein (age 29) is not Barbra Streisand the original Fannie Brice when she was twenty two and instantly became a STAR. The only thing they have in common is that they are both Jewish.  Had I never seen the original production in 1964, had I never heard Streisand sing, I would still wonder how in the world this newest two and a half hour with one intermission adaptation came into being.

When Beanie Feldstein whose previous claim to fame is portraying Monica Lewinski in Impeachment:  American Crime Story and Minnie Fay in Bette Midler’s 2017 HELLO DOLLY is chosen for an important classic role made famous by Streisand producers should have looked beyond popular ticket sales.

Beanie does have a following as evidenced by the audience’s wild reaction to her cavorting and mugging on stage.  But can she handle this starring role? Nope.  It is far beyond her capabilities.  Especially in the singing department.  She works very hard – in overdrive.  Enjoying every single moment on stage.  But she is simply not believable as Fanny Brice.  She isn’t natural.  We see the technique working.  Belting and holding a note does not a singer make.

She isn’t helped with the sound design (Brian Ronan) which is hurtful to the ear drums.  Nor by the garish Las Vegas looking costumes (Susan Hilferty).  Ditto on the eyes.  Nor the set design (David Zinn) whose centerpiece of a circular brick wall that opens to reveal other locations reminded me of the Tower of London.

And the entire production is handicapped by its in and out meandering direction by director Michael Mayer.

Is there anything I admired you may ask?  Yes.  The score by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill is still one of the best.  It would be hard to ruin People, and Don’t Rain on My Parade and The Music That Makes Me Dance but Beanie comes close.

Harvey Fierstein has done his best to rearrange and make sense of the original libretto by Isabelle Lennart.  But it becomes a hodgepodge of quick scenes and short reprises with eye popping flashing neon lights every so often.

Jane Lynch does a good job with Fannie’s mom.  Funny.  Great timing.  We see that she would much rather be performing on stage like her daughter than playing poker with her neighborhood chums.

Ramin Karimloo as Fannie’s love interest the gambler Nick Arnstein sings well and thanks to Harvey Fierstein has been given a lot more to do.  Highlight:  Duet with Beanie – Who Are You Now?  But…

Finally, Jared Grimes as Fannie’s buddy Eddie Ryan almost stops the show with his star turn tap dancing number courtesy of Ayodele Casel – a most welcome relief.

Favorite musical number – Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat.

Now what’s with the large golden bow atop Beanie’s I mean Fannie’s head shown on Playbill’s cover that never appears on stage?

Photo ID.  Proof of vaccination.  MASK UP.  www.funnygirlonbroadway.com

NOTE:  Ramin Karimloo has tested positive for COVID and will be out for 10 days

Photos:  Matthew Murphy

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