FUNNY GIRL, London, to 08 October

Music by Jule Styne Lyrics by Bob Merrill
Book by Isabel Lennart revised by Harvey Fierstein.

Savoy Theatre, The Strand, LondonbWC2R 0ET to 8 October 2016.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2 hr 30 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 871 7627
Review: William Russell 21 April.

Nobody will rain on Sheridan Smith’s Parade.
Released from the confines of the Menier, where it opened, Michael Mayer’s slick and polished production is blessed with a star performance from Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice, a long forgotten star of the Ziegfeld Follies. If she is remembered at all today it is because Barbra Streisand made her name in the show and the film and her spectre could have loomed large over this revival.

Miss Smith sends it flying out of the theatre and makes the show her own. Well, almost. It is not Jule Styne’s greatest show – Lennart’s book, even revised by Fierstein, was always a problem as it deals with Fanny’s rise to stardom from being a Brooklyn girl with an attitude and her marriage to Nick Arnstein, a gambler, con man and possibly worse.

It did not, of course, last – due, in part in this version, to Fanny’s need to possess him entirely. But one never really cares, especially if one knows she went on to have two more husbands. The trouble is Fanny, while funny on stage, comes over in her private life as horribly controlling. Arnstein’s worst sin is not to lose all her money, and other people’s money, but to not turn up to her first night.

But forget all that. The score has some fine songs, Don’t Rain on My Parade, Sadie, Sadie Married Lady and The Music That Makes Me Dance among them and the comic ones for Fanny’s Follies routines are fun, even if her routines are pretty ghastly. However there is Sheridan Smith who is sassy, can sing, can act, is naturally funny and has that quality essential in a musical’s leading lady which makes the audience love her.

The one song that gives her problems is People. Streisand made it her very own so it is not quite the Act One show stopper it should be, but Smith does it her way and her way is very good indeed. Add good sets, big pit band, a first rate ensemble, although the Follies routines do seem a little under peopled, but this is today not then, polished performances from Darius Cambell as Nick and the actresses playing the old biddies back in the Bronx plus perfect sound design and the result is about as good as it gets.

Fanny Brice: Sheridan Smith.
Emma/Mrs Nadler: Natasha J Barnes.
John/Cornet Man: Luke Fetherston.
Mrs Strakosh: Gay Soper.
Mrs Meeker: Valda Aviks.
Mrs Brice: Marilyn Cutts.
Eddie Ryan: Joel Montague.
Mr Keeney: Maurice Lane.
Corney Man: Philip Bertoli.
Bubbles: Emma Caffrey.
Vera: Kelly Homewood.
Polly: Rebecca Fennelly
Mimsey: Sammy Kelly.
Nick Arnstein: Darius Campbell.
Director/Renald/Paul: Matthew Goodgame.
Florenz Ziegfeld: Bruce Montague.
Ensemble: Joelle Dyson; Leah Harris.

Director: Michael Mayer.
Choreography: Lynne Page.
Set Design: Michael Pavelka.
Costume Design: Matthew Wright.
Arrangements: Alan Williams.
Orchestrations: Chris Walker.
Musical Director: Theo Jamieson.
Lighting Design: Mark Henderson.
Sound Design: Richard Brooker.

2016-04-22 15:53:10

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