Review: The Greatest Star has Arrived at the Fisher Theatre with ‘Funny Girl’
September 28, 2023 / By Click on Detroit - Carmichael Cruz
DETROIT – Get ready for it, Detroit, cause it’s a ‘comer.
Funny Girl, the hit Broadway musical, has landed in Motor City and it’s the hilarious, brilliant and stunningly gorgeous production that has made the almost 60-year wait for its return worth every second.
The last time Funny Girl played in Detroit was in 1966 for the first national tour. After seeing this show, it’s easy to see why: You need just the right lead to play Fanny Brice.
Not only does she have to be, well, funny, but the songs are tough. They’re iconic for a reason. If you can’t get the crowd cheering by the end of “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” then you’re going to have a hard time keeping the audience engaged for the second act.
Stepping up to the crimson plate is relative newcomer Katerina McCrimmon. With one of the strongest voices on tour right now and with her fearless attitude, McCrimmon puts every ounce of her on the stage: singing, dancing and making the over 2,000 patrons inside the Fisher Theatre laugh for almost three hours. McCrimmon is a star with the pipes to back her up. From character-driven songs like “His Love Makes Me Beautiful” to her softer side in “People,” McCrimmon navigates Fanny’s humanity effortlessly, toning down the zaniness in moments of realness. Lorne Michaels: if you’re ever looking for your next SNL cast member, she’s right here.
Melissa Manchester, as Fanny’s mom, is the show’s other star with her loving, yet caring presence. The Grammy Award-winner, with a career spanning decades of hits, shows off her comedy chops with her perfect timing, while sharing a touching chemistry with McCrimmon. Stephen Mark Lukas is devilishly handsome as Nick Arnstein, winning over characters on stage, as well as the audience, with his booming voice and charisma. And worth the price of admission alone is Izaiah Montaque Harris’ showstopping tap numbers.
Isobel Lennart’s book, with updates from Harvey Fierstein, stands the test of time with every joke still landing today. Jule Styne’s music, accompanied by Bob Merrill’s lyrics, are as beautiful as ever with a large 16-person orchestra in the pit, unusual in today’s touring standards.
Funny Girl is not all about the comedy. There are real issues present: from Fanny judged among beauty standards (still prevalent today), to family dynamics, to romance and finances, and the perils of gambling (all also very prevalent today). The true power of the show comes in these moments when the audience is along the ride where the laughter is over, but the drama is heightened. That’s true storytelling, that is real theater.
Funny Girl is a rousing and poignant jubilee, even 60 years after its debut on Broadway. From its vibrant set pieces, to its moving numbers and a standout cast, it’s a story worth revisiting today, and this is the cast and production to tell the story of Fanny Brice.
Funny Girl is now playing through October 8, 2023 at the Fisher Theatre. For showtimes and tickets visit BroadwayinDetroit.com.