DAVID FOX: Can we start by not using Barbra Streisand as a polestar here? By which I mean if we’re going to invoke her—as virtually every critic writing about the current Funny Girl revival on Broadway has done—that we be frank about it. Yes, she was (and I guess is) a sensationally gifted and spectacularly individual performer. And no—I did not see her in Funny Girl on stage. But there’s ample evidence to suggest that electrifying as she could be, her performance, always mannered, quickly grew quirkier and less disciplined. By the time William Goldman wrote about her in The Season, his point of comparison was Jerry Lewis, one I’ve heard from others who saw Streisand late in her run. But even at the beginning, Streisand bent Jule Styne’s score to suit her, rewriting the melodic line and virtually throwing the rhythms out the window. It was already notable in the original cast album, and egregious in the film soundtrack four years later. You may love what she does—in some moods, I do, too. But there’s quite a lot to be said for Styne’s actual score, which includes for Fanny no fewer than five of the best Broadway songs of the 1960s: “Cornet Man,” “Who Are You Now?,” “The Music That Makes Me Dance” and yes, of course: “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “People.” Don’t they deserve a chance to be heard come scritto? All this should be good news for Beanie Feldstein and this revival. Alas, it’s not (or at least not enough)…
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Categories: New York, PARTERRE BOX, Theater
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