THEATER REVIEW: “Funny Girl” @ Mac-Haydn Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Roseann Cane
Photograph by Sarah Kozma
A small number of American musicals seem inseparable from the actors who originated the lead roles. For devotees of musical theater, Yul Brynner is The King and I; Robert Preston, The Music Man; and of course, Barbra Streisand is Funny Girl. Contemporary actors cast in these roles have a special burden in making each of these characters their own creation, knowing that many in the audience cannot avoid comparing and contrasting.
I was at once curious and concerned about the actress cast as Fanny Brice in Mac-Haydn Theatre’s production. Streisand is a superstar, and Funny Girl is the show that catapulted her to international fame. But I needn’t have worried. From very early in the show, Lauren Palmeri proved herself a sensation in her own right, a triple-threat (actor/singer/dancer) to be reckoned with.
Funny Girl is a fictionalized biography of vaudeville and Ziegfeld Follies legend Fanny Brice. The show, which takes place in New York City and environs beginning a few years before World War I and ending a few years after, opened on Broadway in 1964 and closed in 1967 after 1,348 performances. The 1968 film adaptation was the top-grossing movie of that year.