Wales Millennium Centre 5th July 2017
Music by Jule Styne, Lyrics Bob Merrill, Book by Isobel Lennart (revised by Harvey Firstein). Director – Michael Mayer, Choreography – Lynne Page, Set Designer- Michael Pavelka, Costumer Designer – Matthew Wright.
Cast: (When I saw the show) – Sheridan Smith ‘Fanny Bryce’, Darius Campbell ‘Nick Arnstein’, Nigel Barber ‘Florenz Ziegfeld’ ably supported by a full supporting cast.
Funny girl is a musical based on the life of Music Hall performer Fanny Bryce. The original version opening on Broadway in 1964, it was later (1968) famously turned into a movie with Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif.
This production originated in the UK at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London before transferring to the Savoy theatre, where unfortunately I was unable to get a ticket! So I was really excited when I heard the show was coming to Cardiff and that Sheridan would be taking the lead again.
Just as the movie is (now) known as a star vehicle for Ms. Streisand you could say the same for this reinvention, with firstly Sheridan getting raves for the role and then in true ‘Broadway’ style her understudy when Sheridan was taken ill and the alternate (I prefer that word) took over for extended periods. To such an extent that this tour is co-lead situation with Natasha J Barnes taking the lead at about half of the venues.
Fanny Bryce was … well basically a Funny girl, a performer who would not be classed as beautiful in the traditional sense, in an industry where looks are quite a lot of the time a prerequisite for success but who through pure force of personality and skill made herself a star.
I would say the cast were excellent, Sheridan bringing the house down with the stand out numbers: “People” and “Don’t rain on my parade”. Darius (who people of my age are still trying to forget his Britney Spears Performance!) was brilliant and is really turning into a great stage leading man.
The staging is great and really shows how a small space / design can be adapted, as I know the Menier and if I stretched during the performance I could part the lead’s hair! Yet on the stage at the Millennium it was equally as effective.
A great show!