Funny Girl at the Savoy Theatre
A standing ovation for Natasha Barnes as Fanny Brice in the musical Funny Girl at the Savoy Theatre: a star is born. Previously understudy to the renowned Sheridan Smith (recently away due to illness) Barnes’ emergence is a real life fairy tale.
Based on the true story of the actual comedienne, Fanny Brice – as such adding a dimension of poignancy to the piece – Funny Girl, directed by Michael Mayer, is a successful revival of the Broadway production (and film) made famous by the amazing Barbra Streisand. It is difficult to fill the shoes of the one and only Streisand, with her phenomenal vocal ability, personality and talent. However, Barnes’ portrayal is fresh and brilliant in its own right and her comedic acting and style are perfection.
The daughter of Hungarian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, Fanny Brice dreams of theatrical stardom but is discouraged by all, called unattractive by family and friends (If a Girl Isn’t Pretty). Defiant and confident, Fanny begs show producers to give her a chance, and when one agrees, she quickly rises to fame. Her first big break is with the Zigfield Follies, but she rebels, defying convention from the start: asked to sing a love song in a wedding dress, she stuffs a pillow in it to make herself look hugely pregnant, creating a cheeky humour that steals the show.
With music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merril, Funny Girl‘s classics such as People, I’m the Greatest Star and The Music that Makes Me Dance are made fresh and new by Barnes’ stunning and sparkling mezzo-soprano voice, and vocals by a superb cast. Darius Campbell is admirable in his portrayal of Fanny’s love, the suave and debonair Nick Arnstein; his good looks and charm have a classic Hollywood Cary Grant aura. With a beautiful baritone voice, he carries the role impeccably and with grace, wooing Fanny with I Want to Be Seen with You Tonight and You Are Woman. All the actors are outstanding, including Joel Montague as Eddie, lady poker players, Vakda Aviks and Gay Soper, and Marilyn Cutts as Fanny’s mother. The dancing, aided by sliding mobile floor panels (also used to move set pieces back and forth), is flawless.
A remarkable, exhilarating, highly entertaining and moving revival, Funny Girl is a must-see.
Funny Girl is on at the Savoy Theatre from 20th April until 8th October 2016. Book your tickets here.