Fifty-eight years after the original Broadway production premiered in 1964, the first-ever revival of Funny Girl opened last night at the August Wilson Theater. On Barbra Streisand’s 80th birthday, no less! This time, the titular funny girl Fanny Brice is played by Beanie Feldstein, and I’m sure everyone involved with this revival was hoping for the kind of reviews that Babs saw back in the 60s. But alas – a whole bunch of critics had to go and rain on everyone’s metaphorical parade. This is wild, because there’s a song in Funny Girl that explicitly asks you not to do that! But those critics did, or rather – some of them did. Meanwhile, some of them enjoyed what they saw and heard.
The original 1964 production of Funny Girl didn’t win a single Tony award, despite being nominated for eight awards, including Best Musical. And by the sounds of some of these reviews, this revival might have that in common with the original. Sadly, there aren’t a whole lot of reviews that play up the pun potential in that title, like “Funny Girl: Not that funny,” or “Funny, Girl Should Have Asked If This Was A Good Idea First.” The critics were much kinder with their reviews, simply expressing that maybe Beanie was miscast in the role, or that the show was fairly “uninspired” for a revival.
Broadway’s ‘Funny Girl’ revival starring Beanie Feldstein debuts with unfavorable reviews. pic.twitter.com/p5YB1lZYJt
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) April 25, 2022
Of course, not all the reviews are so bad. According to the site Did They Like It?, yes, a whole lot of people gave it a thumbs down, half of those gave it a thumbs up, but the largest group were those who landed in the middle. Not good, not bad, just the flat-palmed flip-floppy hand motion that is usually accompanied by an apathetic “Eh.” The New York Times writes that a Funny Girl only succeeds if its lead is charismatic enough to carry the whole show. Time Out adds on to that by suggesting that Beanie isn’t exactly the strongest singer, which is kind of something needed for the essence of Funny Girl if anyone wants to take the role out from Barbra’s immense shadow. Meanwhile, New York Theater Guide writes that it’s kind of difficult to put on a show called Funny Girl that doesn’t really ever bring the funny.
And if you want to hear what Beanie’s singing voice sounds like as Fanny Price, here you go:
Well, something tells me that Lea Michele is pacing in front of the August Wilson Theater today, clutching a stack of headshots and music notes, threatening to shit in a wig unless she’s given a meeting with the director for a quick audition. Two, three songs, tops.