FUNNY GIRL – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

★★★★★
Savoy Theatre, London – until 8 October 2016

Get all social feeds for Funny Girl and its cast on www.stagefaves.com

Get all social feeds for Funny Girl and its cast on www.stagefaves.com

“People”, who didn’t manage to nab their seats fast enough for the Menier Chocolate Factory’s Funny Girl can most definitely rest easy in the knowledge that this acclaimed and triumphant revival is an even bigger and better show following its transfer across the river to the Savoy.

Sheridan Smith’s Fanny Brice simply oozes star quality. Her comic moments are sublime, as is the heartbreak in her portrayal of Brice’s journey as the laughs fade and her world turns ever so less funny. Smith’s versatility as an actress is displayed to heart rending consequences. She grabs the audience with her quirky grin, comic panache and a varied quip of one liners and expressions sure to catch anyone’s eye, quickly proving that she has what it takes to sweep both the dashing Nick Arnstein and the audience into both her life and our hearts.

Darius Campbell plays Arnstein to perfection and opposite Smith, gives us a pairing you’ll want to root for and hate in equal measure as the tale unfolds. Equally, Marilyn Cutts as Mrs Brice gives us an all too stern, yet familiar (and alongside her friends, hilarious) mother to Fanny.

Michael Mayer’s flawless direction has allowed the transfer to grow effortlessly on to the Savoy’s stage. Lynne Page’s choreography is much more refined and suited to the larger house here, with numbers such as Henry Street and the ever so hilariously diplomatic Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat evolving from impressive, to now “stand out” at the Savoy. In particular, the magnitude and accomplished intricacy of Page’s Temporary Arrangement truly dazzles in its new home. A nod too to the ensemble, whose efforts in such a fast paced “conveyor belt” of a show, both literally and metaphorically, provide the backbone to both Fanny’s fast moving world and this epic production.
Arriving (almost) hard on the heels of Gypsy, there’s more of Jule Styne’s sensational music to fill the Savoy. Under Theo Jamieson’s baton the 14 piece band provide pizzazz and nuance in equal measure as they deliver so many seasoned songbook favourites. Harvey Fierstein too has done a fabulous job in fine-tuning Isobel Lennart’s original book, proving that even the greatest shows can be improved upon.
Just, for one minute, take a look back at London’s theatre landscape over the last 12 months. It is incredible that so many of this nation’s smaller and regional theatres have transferred sensational revivals of Broadway classics into West End houses (and, in the case of the Menier’s The Color Purple, even back to Broadway itself!). Britain’s theatre practitioners lead the way, with Funny Girl proving yet another 5* example of world class Theatre.

Booking until 8th OctoberReviewed by: Jack ClementsPhoto credit: Johan Persson

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Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.
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Jonathan Baz on RssJonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.

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