Saturday, April 13, 2024

Broadway: Beanie Feldstein Makes a Terrific Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl” Revival, Plus Barbra Streisand Ain’t Coming Back


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.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News