Funny Girl … the greatest star

MUSIC OWL AWARDS5th – music; 3rd – for dates

When I went: 13 June 2016

Music Owl Hoot rating: 5/5

Location: Savoy Theatre, London

Performers: Natasha J Barnes (understudying Fanny Brice), Darius Campbell (Nick Arnstein), Bruce Montague (Ziegfeld)

Creative team: Jule Styne (music), Bob Merrill (lyrics), Isobel Lennart and Harvey Fierstein (book), Michael Mayer (director), Lynne Page (choreographer)

Approximate price: £100

Special points: Bittersweetness

Best bit: You Are Woman

If I could change one thing: Occasional lack of chemistry between the leads

The musical:

Funny Girl actually began as a stage musical on Broadway but was made famous by the 1968 film adaptation starring Barbra Streisand. It explores the themes of women’s looks, feminism, fame, romance and career vs family ambitions through a string of very strong musical numbers. It is hard not to root for the brutally honest Fanny Brice and even the unreliable Nick Arnstein, and the whole thing brims with humour as well.

This performance:

There was much made in the press of the fact that, first of all, Sheridan Smith had to take on a role in which Barbra Streisand gave an iconic performance, and secondly, from which she later had to take a leave of absence from playing Fanny Brice. My views on this? Leave her alone. She was great in Legally Blonde and I’m sure she was great when she returned to this role.

In the performance I saw, Natasha J Barnes did a fine job as understudy and will doubtless get lead roles in the future off the back of her performances; she has a very strong voice as well as comedic talents. Darius Campbell was all smooth charm as Ornstein, proving that he was always better than his reality show roots (I still remember his famous Baby One More Time performance on Popstars as well as his sexy makeover on Pop Idol …). In the early part of the performance I felt there was a slight lack of chemistry between them, but they warmed up and the ‘seduction’ song You Are Woman, with plenty of adult-humour moments, was one of the highlights.

The whole show was so good that I would like to see it again, and have obtained lots of the musical numbers to play at home, which is always a sign that I really appreciated the music.


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