Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires

Funny Girl
National Tour
Review by Fred Sokol


Katerina McCrimmon (center) with
Jackson Grove and Rodney Thompson

Photo by Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade
Katerina McCrimmon, who boasts a sensational voice, is reason enough to race to Hartford's Bushnell to catch Funny Girl before the national tour moves to another stop. A musical that was revived a few years ago on Broadway, the road version is zestful and benefits greatly from Ellenore Scott's choreography and Ayodele Casel's tap choreography. Director Michael Mayer coordinates all the aspects in rousing fashion utilizing Jule Styne's music and Bob Merrill's lyrics. Isobel Lennart wrote the original book while Harvey Fierstein has added revisions.

The story is set during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Fanny Brice (McCrimmon) first wonders about, then sets her sights upon joining, the Ziegfeld Follies. McCrimmon introduces her vocal dexterity with "Who Are You Now?" The performer begins to let lose even further with "I'm the Greatest Star." Fanny and not-so-pure businessman Nick Arnstein (Stephen Mark Lukas) are first boyfriend and girlfriend and then a married, if mismatched, couple. They sing "I Want to Be Seen With You Tonight" together.

If McCrimmon hasn't totally wowed everyone in the house by now, she will with a rendition of "People," demonstrating her range and touch. She begins softly and then applies detailed, delightful power to the classic song. Enough said. Not long afterward, the actress closes the first act with "Don't Rain on My Parade." One wishes she might just sing right on through intermission!

Izaiah Montaque Harris (as Eddie Ryan, one who believes in Fanny) tap dances up a storm during the first act. We also meet Fanny's mother, Mrs. Brice. Melissa Manchester, often known for her talents as a singer in another genre of art, this time becomes a supportive Jewish mother, one who likes playing cards with her friends on Henry Street. She's funny and endearing but hasn't great opportunities to highlight her voice.

Designer David Zinn makes the most of various drops and lifts of scenery, and the effects mightily enhance the proceedings. Susan Hilferty's costumes absolutely glow. Watch for the glittering outfitting of dancers on second-act numbers such as "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" and "What Do Happy People Do?"

Michael Rafter, music supervisor for the show, maximizes Chris Walker's orchestrations and Elaine Davidson's musical direction. That is successful early on as a lengthy yet snappy, winning overture ushers in Fanny at the top of the performance before she has a line or lyric. It's a splendid opening for the evening.

Funny Girl is presented in a two and one half hour flashback. Fanny falls, somehow, for Nick but observers might question that choice: his voice isn't bad, he's not quite a looker, and he tends to gamble. If the guy's something of a bum, that encourages McCrimmon to raise the rafters with what the current playbill simply lists as "Finale," one huge understatement.

Many of the positive notices about Katerina McCrimmon's star turn suggest that she is a relative unknown. Still, she was in the Roundabout Theatre Company production of The Rose Tattoo, and The Light in the Piazza as part of City Center Encores! During the 2021 season at Hartford Stage, I was fortunate enough to review and note her sweet guitar/singing moment in a production of Ah, Wilderness!. McCrimmon grew up in Miami and her mother lived in Cuba before moving to the United States. Her Funny Girl mother emigrated from Europe to the Lower East Side in New York. This smashing actress's career is taking off and those sitting in orchestra seats might see, too, that she's listening to others on the stage as they speak or sing. That quality (not every performer employs) fuels back-and-forth sequences. The touring company presentation, at curtain call, wisely allows McCrimmon a couple of moments alone in the spotlight to deservedly experience the adulation of appreciative audiences.

Funny Girl runs through June 23, 2024, at The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford CT. For tickets and information, please call 860-987-5900 or visit www.Bushnell.org. For information on the tour, visit