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  • Writer's pictureJohn Gonzalez

Don't Miss the Laughs: 'Funny Girl' delivers them at Broadway Grand Rapids

BY JOHN D. GONZALEZ

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Hey there, folks, it's John Gonzalez of "Behind the Mitten", and I'm here to break down what "Funny Girl" is all about, and why it's a show that you don't want to miss this weekend in downtown GR.


The classic Broadway show opened for eight performances on Tuesday (Sept. 19, 2023) at DeVos Performance Hall, and I happened to catch it Wednesday evening as part of the new 2023-2024 season for Broadway Grand Rapids. (I'm officially a season ticket holder. More on that another day!)


In case you didn't know, or just forgot, "Funny Girl" is an iconic Broadway musical that first hit the stage back in 1964, and it's been captivating audiences ever since. It originally starred Barbra Streisand.


At its heart, "Funny Girl" is a showbiz story with a BIG, beating heart.


It tells the tale of Fanny Brice, a young, ambitious, and outrageously talented woman from the Lower East Side of New York City set in the 1920s who dreams of making it big in the world of entertainment. She's got a voice that could melt hearts and a comedic flair that's quick and pure gold. She's got dreams as big as the city itself, and she's not about to let anything stand in her way.


Like the movie, which co-starred Streisand and Omar Sharif and was released in 1968, "Funny Girl" follows Fanny as she navigates the ups and downs of her career, from her humble beginnings in vaudeville to her rise as a star of the Ziegfeld Follies. But it's not all about the glitz and glamour of the stage; "Funny Girl" also delves into Fanny's personal life, particularly her tumultuous relationship with Nick Arnstein, a charming and dashing gambler.


On this tour it stars the very talented Katerina McCrimmon as Fanny, the rock-solid Stephen Mark Lukas as Nick and the incomparable singer/songwriter Melissa Manchester ("Don't Cry Out Loud") as Fanny's mom.


Both McCrimmon and Manchester are standout stars! These two leading ladies are, without a doubt, two of the main reasons why you should catch this show.

First, let's talk about McCrimmon. This young talent is an absolute revelation as Fanny Brice. Her vocal abilities are nothing short of amazing, and she's got a bright future ahead in the world of theater. When she takes the stage and belts out those show-stopping numbers, you can't help but be blown away. She embodies the spirit and humor of Fanny Brice with such finesse that you'd think she was born to play this role. Her performance is a true highlight of the show, and she's a rising star to watch out for.

Now, let's shift our attention to Manchester. If you're a fan of classic TV, you might remember Mrs. Garrett from "The Facts of Life." Well, Melissa Manchester brings that same kind of tried-and-true veteran presence to her role as Fanny's mom. Her performance is heartfelt and brings a sense of warmth to the production. Much like Mrs. Garrett, she's a character you'll instantly connect with and root for. Melissa Manchester's experience shines through, and she adds depth to the family dynamic in the show.

Together, they make for a dynamic duo on stage. Their chemistry and performances are a key driving force behind the success of this production. Katerina's youthful exuberance and vocal prowess complement Melissa's seasoned charm, creating a compelling mother-daughter relationship that adds layers to the storyline.

The music in "Funny Girl" is another standout feature. The show features iconic songs like "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade," which have become classics in their own right. These songs are not only catchy but also emotionally charged, and they showcase Fanny's incredible vocal talents.


So, in a nutshell, "Funny Girl" is a musical that celebrates the indomitable spirit of a young woman chasing her dreams, and it does so with humor, heart, and some seriously show-stopping tunes. It's a timeless story that continues to captivate audiences, and if you love musical theater, this one's a must-see.


IF YOU GO

"Funny Girl" continues through Sept. 24

DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids

Tickets and more info at broadwaygrandrapids.org

Upcoming Performances:

  • Thursday, September 21, 2023 - 7:30pm

  • Friday, September 22, 2023 - 7:30pm

  • Saturday, September 23, 2023 - 2:00pm

  • Saturday, September 23, 2023 - 7:30pm

  • Sunday, September 24, 2023 - 1:00pm

  • Sunday, September 24, 2023 - 6:30pm

Want to know more about the show? Check out Michele DeSelms' interview with Katerina McCrimmon on WOOD-TV8.


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