Funny Girl by PLOS

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Funny Girl is the story made famous by Streisand. It tells the story of Fanny Brice, who starts out featured on Vauderville but makes her way up to the Follies. Her stardom however comes at a price and as her star continues to rise her relationship with her husband disintergrates.

Playing the role of Fanny Brice was Elizabeth Burton. She completely embodied the role and was quirky, self-depreciating and playful as Brice. Her comedy timing in the lead up to and during ‘You Are Woman,’ was spot on and had the audience laughing out loud. Despite her strong comedy performance she was also able to move me. The final moments of the show were paced beautifully with your heart really going out to Brice.

Alongside Burton was Tim Duthrane as Nick Arnstein who oozed charm and sophistication. At times he struggled with some of the singing and was slightly flat but despite this I completely brought into his character. I also thought Burton and Duthrane were well suited to each other and had an easy and comfortable chemistry between them.

Brice’s mother was played by Kate Chesworth who was a joy to watch whenever she was on stage and had very strong vocals. Hoofer and Brice’s best friend Eddie Ryan was played by Chris Watson. I would have preferred someone with a stronger dance ability playing the role or alternatively cut some of the dance solo so not to highlight this. However he worked wonderfully as the supportive friend to Brice and he had a nice relaxed way about him in his featured songs such as ‘Who Taught Her Everything?’

The show is staged simply but it is very effective. The scenes are set with high quality projections and then minimal period furniture placed in front. That combined with effective lighting allows scenes to transition into each other smoothly.

The musical director was Michael Searle who had clearly worked hard to achieve some solid harmonies from the cast in the ensemble numbers as well as a nice balance of voices.  In amateur shows I appreciate that the band often have very little time to rehearse the score or rehearse together and I am conscious that I saw opening night however at times the tempo did feel a little off and also some of the reeds struggled with some of the numbers.

To me the focus of director, Stuart Burrows, seemed to lie at the heart of the piece rather than the glitz and glamour that one could get carried away with in Funny Girl. . In doing so he really succeeded in getting across Brice’s personality, her comedy and then shining a light on her heartache. Well done to both Burrows and Burton for achieving a beleiveable Brice.  

Funny Girl is playing at Putney Arts Theatre until Saturday 1st June. To find out more about PLOS visit their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of West Side Story, Dinner and One Man Two Gunors.

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