So Funny Girl seems to have been in the media a lot over the last few months, but you know what they say ‘all press is good press’, and despite all of the rockiness, the show is still getting rave reviews and will now also be going on tour early next year.
I am a big Sheridan Smith fan so I fully supported her decision to take time off of the show for personal needs. This industry is hard enough as it is without the added pressures that come with being in the public eye when dealing with personal issues.
Moving on, we have understudies for a reason so I was still really excited when I first went and saw the show with the understudy,Natasha Barnes, who had been playing the title role for a few weeks by this point. Every musical will have understudies and swings so let’s not make a big song and dance about it (pun intended) and as they say the show must go on.
I also then got the chance to see the show a second time at a later date with Sheridan Smith in the title role, and let me set the record straight – both ladies make for a great show.
To be honest my knowledge of the show was limited to the fact I knew one song ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ Barbra Streisand version and that Lea Michele was obsessed with the show in Glee (not that I watched Glee ). So for those of you out there who also don’t know what the show is about…
Originally opening on Broadway in 1964 Funny Girl is a musical whose book was written by Isobel Lennart, music composed by Jule Styne and lyrics written by Bob Merrill. This musical is based on the life and career of Broadway star, film actress and Comedienne Fanny Brice and her rise to stardom.
Transferring from the Menier Chocolate Factory Funny Girl opened at the Savoy Theatre on April 9th for what was meant to be limited run. The Savoy seems to be a good hub at the moment for revivals – recently housing Gypsy and Guys and Dolls – with the audiences of these particular shows being sure to like Funny Girl too.
Both Natasha and Sheridan have been helmed as a young Imelda Staunton. Sheridan was hilarious, charming and her acting throughout the show was so genuine and believable. Sheridan is a true british star and this show only but strengthens her stardom.
Natasha has the voice of a leading lady and commanded the stage as soon as she entered. I am sure her time in Funny Girl will help jettison her career to great heights
Now let’s not forget the ensemble, who so eloquently help to showcase the likes and characters of fellow showgirls as well as the small but strong male ensemble members being athletic and stylistic.
For me the stage at the savoy is lovely but it’s not my favourite theatre in regards to the auditorium seating, bar and toilets. So be warned it can get a little hot and can take some time to walk around in the intermission to get a drink and find the bathroom.
Act One for me moved at a good pace, set the story and established characters where Act Two moved a bit slower and exposed a few gaps in narrative and story.
The choreography by Lynne Page is perfect for this production. Some of her previous credits include Little Shop of Horrors, A little Night Music and La Cage aux Folles all of which have also transferred from the Menier Chocolate factory to West End and/or Broadway. The choreography is stylistic to era while being manageable and embodied by the cast in their varying degrees of ability.
The mirrored wings add so much to the show. Used throughout to show to help set the scene or bring a dream like quality to certain characters or elements is both original and a great assist to the show.
Costuming was again very fitting to the era and the vaudeville style was in line with the showmanship of the follies.
Make sure to check it out and regardless whoever is playing the title role of Fanny Brice for your visit, you won’t be disappointed. The cast recording is also now on sale as well.
Here is a fun little instal video of when the show arrived at the Savoy Theatre: