Girl: Trafalgar’s Preview Screening of West End production
by Deirdre Donovan
deeply satisfying to see Michael Mayer’s West End production of Funny Girl (at
the Manchester Palace Theatre) in a preview screening, which will be released
in cinemas across the world on October 24th. Starring Olivier Award
winner Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice, with Darius Campbell playing opposite her
as Nick Arnstein, this screening ideally coincides with the 50th anniversary of the film that catapulted Barbra Streisand to stardom.
Trafalgar Releasing venture is their latest screening of a theatre production.
Their theatre slate includes The King and I: From the London Palladium starring
Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe (to be released 11/29 & 12/4), Michael
Grandage’s Red starring Alfred Molina (11/4), the Olivier and Tony Award
winning An American in Paris, to mention a few.
how does Smith fare in the title role? Splendidly. Yes, it’s a tall order to
step into the shoes of Brice, that Vaudeville comic from the Lower East Side of
Manhattan who was determined to be the “greatest star of all.”
addition, Smith must contend with the memory of her famous predecessor still
vivid in the minds of most viewers. But Smith doesn’t make the mistake of
trying to imitate Streisand. She puts her own signature on Brice by infusing
her own brand of goofiness into the part. Watching Smith play the feisty Brice
is sure to have you in stitches. Whether she is standing up to producer
Florenz Ziegfeld or stealing the show from glamorous starlets, Smith’s Brice
seems to have an endless number of comic tricks up her theatrical sleeve, and
her cherub-like face exudes charisma.
Campbell, as Nick Arnstein, doesn’t have the same star-voltage as Smith. But
he is serviceable as Brice’s heart-throb and eventual husband. The stage
chemistry between Smith and Campbell doesn’t altogether ignite, and at times Campbell can look a bit wooden in his acting. Still, his tall physique and debonair looks
are perfect for the part. And when it comes right down to it, aren’t all eyes
on Smith’s Brice?
Styne’s music and Bob Merrill’s lyrics are still mesmerizing--and Smith is
ready to belt them out with new millennium verve. Her “People Who Need
People,” sung as a duet with Campbell, is mixed with vulnerability and
heart-felt emotion. And if that is winning, so is her “Don’t Rain on My
Parade,” delivered with gritty conviction and a gleam in her eyes.
Pavelka’s set is framed with a dioramic image of a tilted proscenium arch,
which is a funny-house version of the actual proscenium stage at the Palace
Theatre. Its off-kilter angle makes all of Smith’s shenanigans on stage look
that much funnier.
all its jokes, Funny Girl has moments of genuine gravity and pathos.
For who isn’t near tears at the bio-musical’s finale when Fanny and Nick part
ways? The lovers who seemed like a perfect match earlier are no longer able to
sustain an honest relationship as husband and wife. In fact, it seems like the
only thing that matters in the end is that Fanny continue to shine her beacon
of light as a comic. Or as she so aptly puts it: “That’s where I live, on
those who want to see the screening of the new West End production of Funny
Girl (revised book by Harvey Fierstein), under the aegis of Trafalgar
Releasing, please visit www.funnygirlincinemas.com.
time: 2 hours; 20 minutes