Funny Girl: A Review of the Reviews

The first Funny Girl revival on Broadway opened last April 24 at the August Wilson Theatre and, unfortunately, the reviews were not as favorable as I was expecting it to be.

First off, I didn’t get a chance to see the show mainly because it was all sold out during previews while I was in New York, so probably my opinion may not count (to some) but what I wanted to address is the harsh critiques the show received when it’s opened two weekends ago, the brunt of which went to the show’s star, Beanie Feldstein.

Beanie Feldstein in Funny Girl

Reading most of the reviews, one thing that stuck to me was that there was an ongoing theme – that there were two words – no, make that two names that constantly appears in each of these reviews – and those are: Barbra and Streisand. I do understand that being someone who originated and became a superstar because of the role, making the role synonymous to the name, pretty much one can’t help but compare every other person who would dare on tackle that role, and I feel this is very unfair for Feldstein because nobody will really compares to Streisand. I mean, if Feldstein even gave a hint of Streisand, she will probably be accused of “copying” or “unable to escape the ghost of”. She was most likely giving it her own flair but is now suffering from the comparisons so I feel the odds have not been in her favour even from the get-go. Okay, now I do realize that, ironically, the name that I complained about that appears in each reviewers review is also appearing in here so I don’t know if I’m being part of the problem or what not.

There is such a mixed reaction from the theatre community about Feldstein’s performance – some of them with very high expectations and some of them are pretty much happy with what they saw, and I do understand the former because when you are paying so much for a show you really expect 100%, not only from the performers, but also the production as a whole. From what I’ve been reading, Feldstein’s vocals were not to the expectations, that she was terribly miscast, the set and lighting were not good, and so on and so on. I can’t help but wonder, though, if these opinions were created during or after the show, or were there already preconceived bias against it, being that the casting process had been a very huge deal.

Right now, I only have YouTube videos to go with, and from what I’ve seen so far, I think it looks good so I don’t know what’s happened in between the rehearsal videos, the previews, and opening night. Being an optimist, I really hope this can get turned around somehow and get to the point where a cast recording comes out because it would be nice, this being the first Broadway revival and all. It’s really hard to know if I really dodged a bullet because I missed seeing the show or if I missed out on something – erm, pardon the pun – gorgeous but I’m interested to see how this will turn out in the next couple of months.

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