Having unfortunately missed the chance to catch critically-acclaimed West End revival of Funny Girl, I was thrilled when it was announced there was to be a UK tour that included a stop at the Norwich Theatre Royal – which has now become one of my favourite venues.
To those uncertain, Funny Girl is based on the true story of Fanny Brice; a talented Broadway star, film actress and comedienne and the story follows the trials and tribulations of her life. It was also the show and film that made Barbra Streisand a household name in the 60’s and this revival has given it an exciting new lease of life.
Taking on the role of Fanny Brice is Natasha J Barnes, who is the girl who went from understudy to star. Despite corpsing twice in the show (while although it’s not great for them – I always find it makes a show much more thrilling and hilarious), there’s no denying this woman has an incredible talent. She pulls off the quirky, sassy, strong and lovable Fanny with ease and charm. And I’m sure this is just the start for her.
A huge round of applause also needs to be given to Norwich-born actor, Tom Partridge, who stepped up from a member of ensemble to the leading role of Nick Arnstein, and had the audience not been well-informed you would never have known. For me it just reiterated the importance of the unsung heroes of theatre that are the understudies. That said, this is a highly talented cast – who all deserved their standing ovation.
The set was artistic and clever, with mirrored and dimensional effects; and the costumes were full of glitz and glamour (in fact, I wouldn’t mind stealing some for my wardrobe!). The music is charming and classically theatrical, with the iconic songs such as I’m The Greatest Star, People, Funny Girl and the unforgettable Don’t Rain On My Parade – it’s difficult not to find yourself tapping along and leave the theatre humming the tunes!
Overall, this is a slick production with class and comedy, that contains everything you would wish to see in a classic musical. Oozing with talent and making a treat for the eyes – nobody is going to rain on your parade after you see this show!
Funny Girl is at the Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday 1st July. The full tour runs through to August.