Funny Girl | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Funny Girl, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. There is life after Barbra for Jule Styne and Bob Merrill's portrait of Fanny Brice, a rubber-faced Broadway legend who dared to be loved. Casting herself against type, this star of the Ziegfeld Follies was Jewish, plain, and funny--the antithesis of the pretty, blond, vacuous chorine. After achieving fame, she stood by her man, charming gambler Nick Arnstein, perhaps assuaging her nagging fear that she hadn't "suffered enough."

Though closer to "pretty woman" than "funny girl," Heidi Kettenring's bumptious, hungry Fanny is combustibly comic and dead-on in every heartbreak. Director Dominic Missimi puts her through the same go-for-broke paces that made the self-denigrating Brice hilarious long before Lucy. Kettenring also lays claim to the power of "People"--and even more so to the classic "My Man."

Raining on Fanny's parade is Joe Forbrich, suavely sad as Nick, the husband who couldn't endure a supporting role. Rondi Reed richly reinvents the tough-loving Jewish mother, and Bernie Yvon extracts every winsome possibility from the nice guy destined to play second banana. Though the score is truncated and the dances reduced, the ensemble have tap-happy fun with the World War I rouser "Rat-tat-tat-tat" and "Sadie," an enthralling tribute to married torpor.

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