I’m just back from the opening night of the first ever revival of “Funny Girl” on Broadway in 58 years. What I’m reading is that all the reviewers want Barbra Streisand back and no one can ever equal her supremacy. Plus, today was Babs’s 80th birthday.
I’m sorry to tell you Barbra is not coming back to this role. So if you ever want to hear anyone sing “People” or “Don’t Rain on My Parade” again on stage, you’re going to have to get over it. It’s time for a new generation (actually many have passed since 1964). Beanie Feldstein is indeed stupdendous, a very exciting new, young Broadway star whom we needed desperately. Her singing, dancing — even tap dancing — are exuberant, so is her total performance, and this production is exactly what we needed for the return of Broadway.
Not everything is perfect with the new “Funny Girl.” Jane Lynch, who I love in everything she does, is just miscast as Fanny’s mother. First of all physically their differences are severe. Second, I felt like Lynch was playing the part as Sophie Lennon, her character on “Mrs. Maisel.” The show should have been cut too, It’s much longer than necessary, with redundancy being a big issue.
But the musical numbers are knockouts. This is a real Broadway musical, and feels like it. And it has a strong leading, Ramin Karimloo, playing Nicky Arnstein, for all he’s worth. And whatever deficiencies were in the original show are nicely solved by some wonderful choreography and the spine tingling tap dancing of Jared Grimes.
Opening night brought out lots of A listers, from “Mrs. Maisel” star Alex Borstein to Bryan Cranston, Sarah Paulson, Jane Krakowski, and so on. There were also plenty of Broadway names, from the Shuberts, Nederlanders, and Jujamcyn Theaters. Everyone’s taking this production seriously, as it’s Broadway for the future. Whining about the past isn’t very productive.