Beanie Feldstein Shines as Fanny Brice in Star-Studded Revival 

Funny Girl returns to Broadway for the first time since 1967, when the original production took their final bows. The star-studded revival is headlined by Golden Globe-nominated beanie feldstein as Fanny Brice, ushering in a new era of funny girls everywhere, with all of the heart, passion, and moxie that makes this one of the most beloved classic musicals.

Set in New York City, after World War I, Funny Girl opens on the now-headlining Vaudeville actress Fanny Brice as she waits in her dressing room to go on stage for the latest act out of Ziegfeld’s Follies. But her focus on her is n’t on her upcoming appearance on her, no, she’s reminiscing about the “ghosts” of her past on her as she awaits her husband on her, Nicky Arnstein’s return from prison. She asks if he’s called and, of course, he hasn’t. But the gravity of all of this doesn’t come into full swing until the second act. First, Beanie Feldstein has to endear herself to the audience, and sweep them up in the heartwarming—and heartbreaking—coming-of-age story that is steeped in show biz, romance, and soul-stirring tap-dance numbers.

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Fanny Brice, a role originated by Barbra Streisand, was always going to be a difficult role to fill, but Feldstein is everything that this role needed. Who needs spotlights when her eager enthusiasm lights up the stage every time she dances across it? If audiences were uncertain about her casting of her, they’ll be just as pleased as Florenz Ziegfeld to discover that she is, in fact, the greatest star. And she has at least thirty-six expressions too! As the play progresses and Fanny transforms from a naïve, hopeless romantic of an ingenue to a jaded, yet optimistic wife and mother, Feldstein employs these subtle changes in the physicality of her performance of her. She no longer bounds across the stage with youthful exuberance or loves with arms wide-opened; her posture de ella stiffens, she’s more guarded with her affection de ella, and, while she never loses her unwavering belief that she can fix things, she learns that she can only really control her own destiny de ella.


RELATED:Ramin Karimloo on the ‘Funny Girl’ Revival, Working With Beanie Feldstein and Jane Lynch, and Nicky Arnstein’s Complexities

For the better part of the first act, Fanny’s two main scene partners are her doting and delightfully overbearing mother Mrs. Brice (jane lynch), and her friend and fellow thespian Eddie Ryan (Jared Grimes). Jane Lynch is an absolute revelation in this role. While most of her her musical theater her adjacent notoriety comes from her time on gleefans of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will feel like they spent two and a half hours with Sophie Lennon. And while it would have been preferable that a Jewish actress, like Feldstein, had been cast in the role of Mrs. Brice, she balances the performance without playing too far into stereotypes.

Grimes, who is also filming the final season of Manifest, brings all of his charm and charisma into the role of Eddie. He can act! I can sing! And oh, I can dance. He brings to life the awe-inspiring and toe-tapping choreography of the world-renowned tap dancer Ayodele Casel, whose work takes this revival to a whole other level. With Eddie, there’s a line that could easily be crossed that makes his long-suffering and clearly unrequited adoration of Fanny tiresome, but Grimes never steps over that line. There’s a clear point of understanding and friendship with their relationship that feels natural and easy. While you don’t necessarily root for them as she pursues the playboy gambler Nicky Arnstein, Grimes and Feldstein do make you anxious for the next time they get to banter and ham it up on stage together.


I was obviously not around to bear witness to the esteemed greatness of the Original Broadway cast of Funny Girlbut I did grow up loving the movie adaptation that starred Streisand and Omar Sharif and that, in my opinion, is a tough act to follow. But, for the past ten years I had been hoping that the eventual and inevitable Funny Girl revival would cast one man, and one man only, in the role. And they did. ramin karimloo is effortless in doling out the charm and allure that draws Fanny Brice in and makes her willing to even consider giving up her career.

Nicky isn’t a bad guy, despite being a scheming gambler who sometimes cheats people out of their money. Once he and Fanny commit to their relationship, he stays—despite warning her that none of this is in his nature. He’s the type of guy who comes and goes out of a woman’s life, he’s not the type to be pinned down or to show up for every opening night. Despite all of his mistakes, he does genuinely love and care for Fanny and that’s what makes the outcome of their relationship that much more bittersweet. the Funny Girl revival makes it hard not to fall a little bit in love with Nicky as Fanny does—which is evident by the uproarious applause that Karimloo received every time he finished singing (or dancing). Feldstein and Karimloo bring the same kind of dynamite chemistry that Streisand and Sharif shared that still makes people revisit the movie. If hamilton can get a professional recording, I’m starting the campaign for a professional recording of Funny Girl right now.


The revival’s sets are something to really marvel at and I wish the cast could’ve been less distracting in their brilliant performances so that I could really take in all of the aspects of Henry Street, the Follies, and the fine restaurant backroom that Nicky woos Fanny in. The turntable was a stroke of genius on behalf of this production, allowing them to keep things constantly moving as set pieces were flown into scene transitions. The costume design caught my eye a number of times, particularly with the way that Fanny is dressed in rich jewel tones before her wedding, and after she returns in the throes of matrimonial bliss she is dressed in bright pastels like a flower plucked from a spring bouquet.

The revival of Funny Girl was crafted under the direction of Tony Award winner Michael Mayerwith isobel lennart‘s original book being revised by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein. The awe-inspiring production’s shine was pulled together by an award-winning slate of creatives, with scenic designer David Zinncostumer susan hilfertylighting designer kevin adamsand sound designer brian ronan. In addition to Casel’s unforgettable tap choreography, Funny Girl features choreography by ellenore scott. Emmy Awardwinner Michael Rafter was tasked with music direction and supervision, while Chris Walker provided the orchestrations of the classic score by Tony, Grammy and Academy Award winner Jules Styne, and lyrics by Tony Award nominee and Grammy Award winner Bob Merrill.


While Feldstein, Lynch, Karimloo, and Grimes may be headliners, the ensemble of Funny Girl is filled with shining stars as well, including Afra Hines, Alicia Hadiya Lundgren, Colin Bradbury, Stephen Mark Lucasand Daniel Beeman. With a glitzy production that has so many moving pieces–literally–it’s paramount that they have an ensemble cast that elevates the performances around them.

Funny Girl is the exact musical that we need right now. One that embraces the joys and pains of growing up and growing apart, while embracing the beauty that comes from being a funny girl like Fanny Brice.

Funny Girl is playing now at the August Wilson Theater | Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Rating: A


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