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Theater Review (Seattle): ‘Funny Girl’ at Village Theatre

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Village Theatre’s production of the well-worn, generally beloved Funny Girl looks like it’s exactly what it needs to be, replete with a wide array of attractive sets from scenic designer Bill Forrester, crisp choreography from Kristin Holland, and on-point musical direction from Tim Symons and Bruce Monroe. The show looks and sounds terrific, and it’s almost instantly forgotten by the next day.

This production’s lack of lasting impact is partly due to the show itself, which has lots of charm but a pretty lackluster book by Isobel Lennart, whose frame-story structuring of the life of Fanny Brice is a start-stop affair with very little urgency or agency granted to its protagonist. Things just kind of happen to Fanny, good and bad, and there’s rarely a sense that her actions had anything to do with it either way.

Mostly though, Village’s production is problematic because it whiffs on the show-stopping opportunities Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s music tees up. “Don’t Rain on My Parade” has been cursed with ubiquity, but it still has potential to be the show’s most bracing, lively moment. Despite her unquestionable talent, Sarah Rose Davis lacks the belting vocal power to turn this paean to ambition into a galvanizing experience. Instead, the show just kind of peters out at the end of both acts as a result.

Sarah Rose Davis as Fanny Brice and John David Scott as Eddie Ryan in 'Funny Girl.' Photo by Tracy Martin.

Sarah Rose Davis as Fanny Brice and John David Scott as Eddie Ryan in ‘Funny Girl.’ Photo by Tracy Martin.

The ensemble numbers, including “Cornet Man” and “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat,” have a polished energy that helps make up for some so-so vocals, but they can’t completely counteract a disappointing rendition of the show’s signature song.

Elsewhere, Davis is well-cast as Fanny, even if she does lean a bit heavily on Streisand-esque “ain’t I a stinker” shtick — understandably difficult to avoid with a role so strongly associated with an iconic figure like this one. Her performance of “People” is a lovely rendition of the longing ballad, and she does her best to make comically romantic numbers like “You Are Woman” work, despite a wholly lackluster performance from Logan Benedict opposite her. Benedict’s Nick Arnstein is devoid of the slick charisma the character should possess; hell, we don’t even get any glimpses of smarm.

John David Scott as Fanny’s pal Eddie Ryan and Bobbi Kotula as Fanny’s mom enliven the supporting ranks with their enthusiastic turns. Throwaway number “Find Yourself a Man” is one of the show’s highlights thanks to them, alongside Jayne Muirhead doing a suitably cranky Mrs. Strakosh.

Funny Girl runs through July 6 at Village’s Issaquah location before moving to Everett for a run through August 3. Tickets are available for purchase online.

 

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.
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