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Wednesday, April 24,2013

Nice 'Girl'

MSU closes theater season with iconic musical

by Dana Casadei
The musical that introduced Barbra Streisand to Broadway still has much of the same charm that enchanged audiences in 1964. “Funny Girl,” with music by Jules Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, and book by Isobel Lennart, traces legendary showgirl Fanny Brice’s path to stardom, from a Brooklyn vaudeville act to headliner of the Ziegfeld Follies — and her roller coaster relationship with husband Nick Arnstein (Will Slanger-Grant).

Zachera Wollenberg gives a heck of a performance. She plays Fanny with an aw-shucks charm and shows off her comedic chops, especially in "You Are Woman, I Am Man.” While "People” and “Don´t Rain On My Parade” — two of the shows most iconic songs — are a little disappointing, Wollenberg’s last three songs make up for it, particularly the beautiful “Who Are You Now?”

Lansing theater vet Ken Beachler, who plays Florenz Ziegfeld, doesn’t get much stage time, but his booming voice and charisma make him unforgettable. Zev Steinberg´s Eddie Ryan and Jacqueline Wheeler´s Mrs. Brice work extremely well together, especially during “Who Taught Her Everything?” one of the evening’s standouts. Furthermore, both actors are just plain fun to watch, each having pipes to back up their comedic roles.

Scenic designer Renee Suprenant guides the audience easily from Mrs. Brice´s saloon to rehearsals and the stage door. A large moveable piece, with a door on one half and red curtain on the other, was often put at a diagonal across the stage, with viewable action happening behind and in front of it. All that had to be added were a few key pieces and viewers were transported where they needed to go. Costume designer Lane Fragomeli, meanwhile, stayed true to the era, and had clothes that helped in Fanny´s transformation from duckling to swan.

However, Slanger-Grant didn’t make Arnstein as charming as his character needed to be. Additionally, the live music overpowered the singing at times, there seemed to be some microphone issues and a few of the group numbers fell a little flat. 

“Funny Girl”
MSU Department of Theatre
Through April 28
7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Pre-show discussion 1:15 p.m. Sunday; post-show discussion on Thursday
$20/15 students
(800) WHARTON
whartoncenter.com

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