Theatre Review: “Funny Girl” Cast Dials up the Camp as McCrimmon Shines

Kevin Taft reviews the theatrical production of Funny Girl, a good effort, running from May 28 to June 9 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
User Rating: 7

The classic Broadway musical “Funny Girl” laughs its way to the Ahmanson after a stunning run on Broadway. But are audiences ready to say, “Hello, Gorgeous?”

There are many beautiful things to like about the touring version of Funny Girl – the fictionalized true story of comedian and entertainer Fanny Brice (portrayed here by Katerina McCrimmon). Her failed marriage to a gambler named Nick Arnstein (Stephen Mark Lucas) becomes center focus as this girl who never thought she’d amount to anything becomes a huge star.

Featuring classic songs like “People,” “You Are Woman, I Am Man,” and the quintessential “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” this latest incarnation is a highly energetic, playful romp that falls short on romance, but rises to vocal heights whenever star McCrimmon belts out a number.

See Also: Theater Review: This Gorgeous “Redwood” Soars but Doesn’t Reach New Heights

The issue with many touring versions is the need for sets that can be taken apart easily whenever the troupe moves on to the next city. Unfortunately, “Funny Girl” leaned into this a bit hard, and as a result, many of the sets felt cheap and sort of leftover from a community theater production.

While McCrimmon is terrific, she does play the role a bit broader than the Fanny Brice’s of the past, including Lea Michele and Barbra Streisand. This isn’t good or bad, it’s just a matter of taste. Her timing plays well to a touring audience, making the jokes zip and poke with relatable aplomb.

While Lucas made a good understudy on Broadway (I saw him perform there), here he also dials up the camp. As a result of the rat-a-tat-tat/cha-cha-cha comedy, there isn’t much chemistry between the two leads. Both are fine actors, for sure, but something was missing in the romance department.

Legendary pop star Melissa Manchester plays Fanny’s mom here, and she’s completely delightful, diving into the role with crunchy zest. Izaiah Montague Harris, as Fanny’s tap-dancing friend Eddie Ryan, has some great numbers to shine in.

For the uninitiated or for those who just want to listen to how glorious McCrimmon’s voice is, “Funny Girl” goes down pleasantly, neither overwhelmingly wowing nor crushingly disappointing.

It’s a fine show with a great cast, and sometimes that’s all people who need people need.

“Funny Girl” will be showing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts from May 28 to June 9.
For information and tickets, visit SCFTA.org.

7
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Kevin is a long-time movie buff with a wide variety of tastes and fixations in the film world. He cried the moment Benji appeared onscreen in “Benji,” and it took him about four times to finally watch “The Exorcist” (at age 24) without passing out. “Star Wars: A New Hope” was the movie that changed everything and when his obsession with films and filmmaking began. A screenwriter himself (one long-ago horror script sale to New Line remains on a shelf), his first film "Two Tickets to Paradise" that he co-wrote premiered in June 2022 on Hallmark. He is currently working on another for the iconic brand.

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