Quote of the Day: Fanny Brice (1891-1951) was a trail-blazer in the entertainment world…Ms. Brice’s career was instrumental to the future of women in comedy. Her life story and rise to stardom inspired the musical “Funny Girl.” from the Playbill for Funny Girl, Directed by Michael Mayer, Music by Jule Styne, Lyrics by Bob Merrill, Book by Isobel Lennart (from an original story by Miss Lennart), Revised Book by Harvey Fierstein. The National tour of Funny Girl is playing at the historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN January 16-21, 2024. Funny Girl premiered on Broadway in 1964. The revival premiered on Broadway in April of 2022.

Katerina McCrimmon as Fanny Brice in the National Tour of Funny Girl. Photo: Evan Zimmerman

My friend Joanna and I braved the frigid Minnesota weather and drove down to Minneapolis for opening/media night of the National Tour of Funny Girl in Minneapolis, MN. It was so worth it! I’ve only watched the 1968 film of Funny Girl, starring Barbra Streisand, once. Joanna said it was an integral part of her growing up years and watched it so many times that she has it memorized. She had great expectations for this production. It did not disappoint. Although she noticed some changes due to the updated book by Harvey Fierstein, she said that she loved this production. In fact, we talked about the ending, and she said, “This one is better,” as it leaves us with a Fanny Brice who finally realizes that she is successful on her own. That, even though she longs for that lasting relationship, it does not define her. I loved that message so much. 

Katerina McCrimmon plays the titular character Fanny Brice with the most gorgeous voice and stage presence. She has an enormous vocal range, not just in pitch, but also quality and style. She can go from sweet, high notes that float among the rafters to a strong belt that blows the roof off. She can sound jazzy and classical, and everything in between, all the while, putting in emotion and humor, heartache and pizzazz. Katerina McCrimmon is one to follow as her own star rises. What a treat to experience her performance. 

Katerina McCrimmon and Stephen Mark Lukas in the National Tour of Funny Girl. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Stephen Mark Lukas plays Fanny’s husband Nick Arnstein. His own singing chops are smooth and mesmerizing, like the character he portrays. Why is he attracted to Fanny? She’s not the bombshell showgirl that she performs alongside. She’s not the wealthy debutante that he formerly dated. But, there’s something special about Fanny, and he sees it. He lifts her up and inspires her, only to let her down when the chips fall for him. He can’t get past his own ego, his lust for gambling and the fast life, and above all, he can’t stand being “Mr. Fanny Brice.” Yet, she loves him unconditionally. 

Katerina McCrimmon and Izaiah Montaque Harris in the National Tour of Funny Girl. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Izaiah Montaque Harris plays Eddie Ryan, Fanny’s friend and dance teacher. He is charming and talented. Barbara Tirrell plays Fanny’s mother, Mrs. Brice. She’s edgy, yet charming, a classic Jewish mama who wants all the best things for her girl. Her friends – Mrs. Meeker (Christine Bunuan) and Mrs. Strakosh (Eileen T’Kaye) are both comic relief and endearing members of Fanny’s family and extended family/community. They were a delightful trio. Walter Coppage plays a dignified, if exasperated, Florenz Ziegfeld. I am amazed at how bold Fanny is in talking back to him, and going off on her own creative talents, at the risk of being fired, or ticking him off. In the end, he sees her value as a person and a performer.

Christine Bunuan,Barbara Tirrell, and Eileen T’Kaye in the National Tour of Funny Girl. Photo: Larry Marano

The entire ensemble cast is phenomenal. I loved all the choreography. (Original choreography by Carol Haney under the guidance of Jerome Robbins) Ellenore Scott gets the credit for the flashy choreography in this revival production. Ayodele Casel did the tap choreography, and there are many stunning tap dance numbers that got wild applause! Scenic Design by David Zinn, and gorgeous costumes by Susan Hilferty. Lighting by Kevin Adams. So many people deserve praise for this production. Visit the Funny Girl National Tour website to read more about them, and find a performance in a city near you! I also found interesting information on the journey of developing the story of Fanny Brice on this site

Jackson Grove, Katerina McCrimmon, and Rodney Thompson in the National Tour of Funny Girl. Photo: Matthew Murphy

You can see this gorgeous production of Funny Girl at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Jan. 16-21, 2024. Go the the Hennepin Theatre Trust website for tickets and showtimes. It’s worth the venture out in the cold! 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Who are your favorite women in comedy?