- OnStage Massachusetts Critic
Funny Girl, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill and book by Isobel Lennart, originally stared Barbra Streisand when it opened on Broadway in 1964. It is the story of comedian Fanny Brice and her rise from the Vaudeville stage to becoming a world-renowned Ziegfeld star. In Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre production, Shoshana Bean of Broadway’s Hairspray and Wicked, takes on the role of Fanny Brice and from the moment she walks on the stage through the final note she sings, she embodies every comedic moment, emotion and gusto of the character that makes the audience truly believe she is the “greatest star”.
Shoshana Bean has everything it takes to pull off this iconic role: fantastic vocals, perfect comedic timing, and the emotional depth needed for the dramatic scenes within the show. Everything she did was genuine and the audience couldn’t have loved her performance any more than it did giving her a robust standing ovation.
Other highlights of this production include Rick Faugno as Eddie Ryan, Fanny’s longtime friend and mentor, Bradley Dean as Nick Arnstein, Fanny’s husband, and Susan Cella as Mrs.Brice, Fanny’s mother. Faugno delivered solid vocals and incredible tap dancing skills both as a solo in act one and then in a duet in “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” in act two. His sounds were clearly executed and his rhythms were superb. He danced effortlessly across the stage even while singing and was a joy to watch. Dean as smooth talking Nick delivered a strong performance with terrific vocals and acting. Cella was amusing as Fanny’s mother, Mrs. Brice, also delivering a solid performance and receiving tremendous applause during “Who Taught Her Everything”, a duet with Faugno, in which while singing, Cella slid into a full right split with ease.
The staging and choreography by James Brennan was well done and worked great for the circular stage with entrances coming from a variety of aisles in the audience or up from below the stage via a square cut out in the floor. Costume coordination and additional designs from Mark Nagle were colorful. The show girl outfits were especially well done and a nice nod to the originals worn in Ziegfeld’s productions. Additional production credits include Mark Hartman as music director, Stephen Dobay as scenic designer, Jack Mehler as lighting designer and Charles Coes as sound designer.
Though the run time is 2 hours and 50 minutes including intermission, Shoshana Bean as Fanny Brice makes every minute worth it and her performance is not to be missed. Funny Girl plays Tuesdays-Sundays through June 19th. For tickets or more information visit www.nsmt.org , call 978-232-7200 or visit the box office in person at 62 Dunham Rd. Beverly, MA.
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