Laugh, cry with ‘Funny Girl’ | Theater Review

By Meredith Pechta, Theater Reviewer | Jul 16, 2014
Courtesy of: Mark Kitaoka/Village Theatre Sarah Rose Davis (Fanny Brice) and Logan Benedict (Nick Arnstein) star in Village Theatre’s “Funny Girl” production.

There are two ways to view the Village Theatre’s production of “Funny Girl”: Watch the movie just before, compare and be disappointed. Or watch the play with a fresh set of eyes and enjoy it for what it is. The latter is the way to go.

Most know that “Funny Girl” is based on the real story of Fanny Brice, though few probably know just how loosely adapted it really is. But that’s show biz.

Fanny Brice was a young woman who didn’t look the way most woman in show business look. She was “a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls,” as she put it.

But fortunately she was talented enough to get noticed by Florenz Zigfeld, who was the best producer of hits that New York had to offer back in 1910. Despite her defiance, Fanny became a star.

She also, unfortunately, didn’t get lucky in her choice of husband. Nick Arnstein was a professional gambler who incurred a lot of debt and served time for a number of crimes not mentioned in the play or movie.

They say you can’t have it all, and that turned out to be true for Fanny Brice, whose success rate in her personal life and professional life couldn’t be more disparate.

“Funny Girl” has everything you’d expect, with a few exceptions. You’ll hear songs that didn’t make it into the movie and won’t hear songs that were in the movie.

And, unlike the movie, the star doesn’t steal the show from the rest of the cast. It’s much more of an ensemble piece.

The title role goes to Sarah Rose Davis, who has big shoes to fill. Fortunately, she’s up to it. It’s useless to compare her to Barbra Streisand, but she has the same gusto and sadness in the later scenes.

Making his Village Theatre debut as the charming Nick Arnstein is Logan Benedict. He creates a stubborn nobility that Fanny falls for, whether she should or not.

Village Theatre veteran Bobbi Kotula plays Fanny’s smart and supportive mother, Rose. Since her part is more important in the stage version, not just anyone could play her.

The famous Florenz Zigfeld is portrayed by Don Collins, who you may remember from other productions on that stage. His character gives Fanny more chances than most get in show business and is richly rewarded for his patience.

John David Scott plays Fanny’s righthand man, Eddie Ryan. He’s the one who gets Fanny on stage and sets her life in motion, although it’s clear he was hoping to get a date out of it, too.

Rose’s poker buddy, Mrs. Strakosh, is played by Jayne Muirhead. She been in a number of the Village Theatre’s best productions.

And last but not least is Fanny’s maid, Emma, played by Chelsea Lynn Myers who also doubles as Fanny’s understudy. They look so a like, they could be sisters.

Whether you need laughs or tears, “Funny Girl” delivers both. Don’t miss it.

“Funny Girl” is playing at the Everett Performing Arts Center July 11-Aug. 3. For ticket information, call 425-257-8600.

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