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re: Funny Girl 1964 vs 2022 : Streisand wasnt quite 'Streisand' when FUNNY GIRL was on Broadway ...
Posted by: NewtonUK 06:48 am EDT 08/08/22
In reply to: re: Funny Girl 1964 vs 2022 Very Long - Ann 05:13 am EDT 08/08/22

And there were several terrific Fanny Brice's in FUNNY GIRL in the original production and tour. Mimi Hines was great, and Marilyn Michaels, who did the National that came to the West Coast, was very fine as well. Streisand had not become a household word, an icon. She was still a very funny, slightly gawky young woman, with an amazing voice, and charisma by the barrelful. But one didnt feel cheated or let down by seeing Hines or Michaels. We were still seeing (and hearing) FUNNY GIRL. Mimi Hines is, appropriately, brought up a lot - she did the last 18 months of the Broadway run, and was universally admired, loved in the role. We didn't feel cheated at all when we saw her,

The problem with this revival was very simple. Fanny is a 'big sing' for anyone. The role requires you to be able to belt and croon and everything in between. It requires you to act. And it requires you to be a very funny actor indeed - with clowning instincts. Streisand and Hines both had these in spades. The book was never very good - but it did its job well enough without Mr Fierstein's ministrations - and definitely without adding 2d drawer songs from the film for no good reason.

When Ms Feldstein was announced for the role, there was indeed general consternation among many musical theatre fans. Could she sing? Could she be funny on stage? Could she act it? Why would Nicky fall for her? (Fanny wasnt especially sexy. Barbara was. The role was written to accommodate that) . We all know the answers to these questions.

Now Ms Michele will be taking over. We know (we think) that she can sing it. There is no documentary proof that she can be funny. We'll see in a few weeks.

Despite sniping on this board, Both Sheridan Smith and Natasha Barnes did a lovely job with this role in the UK. Neither can sing like Streisand, but they can sing well and put over the material. ANd both can be very funny. The production was small scale, unpretentious, and worked like a charm.

Besides a major casting miscalculation by the producer and director - they also erred, IMHO, by not creating an entirely new production for Broadway. Part of what made FUNNY GIRL work was that it was a big show business tale - sets, costumes, lighting, a big band. The producers decided to keep the low tech, small scale, (yes, ugly) UK production values. That hasnt helped either.

FUNNY GIRL's cast of 43 was reduced to 22. A 14 piece orchestra replaced the original orchestra of at least 24. The brass section n Chris Walker's orchestration (and he is a great orchestartor), is 2 trumpets, a trombone, and a french horn. Originally it was 3 trumpets and 3 trombones. There are currently 3 reed players. Originally there were 5. Today one percussionist, Back then, 3. Today 2 keyboards, 2 violins, cello and bass. Then a full string section. It makes a difference.
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