Gary’s Ratings for Funny Girl on Broadway is 4.8/5.
Main Cast: Julie Benko (as Fanny Brice, through September 4), Lea Michele (as Fanny Brice, starting September 6), Jane Lynch (as Mrs. Rosie Brice, through August 14), Tovah Feldshuh (as Mrs. Rosie Brice, starting September 6), Ramin Karimloo (as Nick Arnstein), Jared Grimes (as Eddie Ryan)
Running Dates: Example Previews from March 26, Opening April 24, Closing: open ended
Theater Location: August Wilson Theatre, 245 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019
Running Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes (including one intermission)
Tickets: Prices from $69. Buy tickets here.
Gary’s Rating Score
If you’ve read or heard the unfavorable reactions on this show, you might be surprised by my high rating. After all, it’s not every day I give 4.8 to a show. What makes Funny Girl special despite the problems the show has encountered?
It’s actually quite simple: I love this show and think it’s praiseworthy. The original Broadway production happened nearly six decades ago and it was a blast. Of course, the legendary Barbra Streisand starred, both in the 1964 show and 1968 movie.
While we can’t see Barbra in the role today, getting the chance to revisit this classic on Broadway in a new coat of paint is a treat. That being said, I need to address the main issue critics and audiences had with the show – the original main role casting.
The revival production started with Beanie Feldstein as the show’s lead. It was clear from the start that whoever played Fanny would have some giant shoes to fill. As expected, the revival’s original lead couldn’t reach the heights of Streisand and the public didn’t take long to pick up on the shortcomings. After a torrent of poor reviews, Feldstein ended up leaving the production two months early.
Now everyone’s enthusiastic about Lea Michele taking over the lead and we might end up with an even more powerful show. But the initial issues the run had cast a shadow on the production.
Some critics, perhaps riding the wave of disappointment, panned the entire revival. And I don’t believe that reaction is justified. Funny Girl is still an impressive production in its own right and it will likely get even better. The show has more than enough great qualities – the points where it falls short of the original aren’t enough to keep it down.
What Is Funny Girl About?
Funny Girls follows the semi-biographical story of real-life Broadway, film, and radio diva Fanny Brice. The show starts at the very beginning of Fanny’s career, following her through the challenges she faces.
Fanny has the making of a star in all aspects except one – she isn’t considered typically beautiful. However, she gradually overcomes the obstacles with the help of her unrelenting spirit, strong will, and a few good people she meets along the way.
As her theater career starts taking off, Fanny meets the dashing Nick Arnstein and falls in love. Throughout the show, her relationship with Nick goes through ups and downs. By the end, we witness Fanny grow stronger and that growth is fueled equally by her powerful nature and the hardships she overcomes.
Funny Girl is a story about a young woman pushing through all of the things standing in the way of her dreams. The show deals with finding the strength and determination to fight for one’s place under the sun, but it doesn’t represent that fight in a heavy way. Fanny is a superstar at heart, and she acts the part in every situation.
How Complex Is the Show?
Funny Girl is welcoming to all audiences – the minimum age limit for the show is four. The show deals with some relatively complex subjects, but not in a manner that would go over anyone’s head.
Every theme of this musical is communicated clearly. The updated score does a good job of placing certain songs precisely where they belong. Thanks to that, all crucial parts of the script are made very straightforward.
Set Design and Style
The set design for Funny Girl is pretty minimalist, shining through only in certain places. This serves in the show’s favor, allowing the main cast and supporting characters to take over the scene.
Costume design, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. Take one look at the stage and it will be clear that the production had plenty of fun with this aspect of the show. The costumes are done in the style of the early 20th century – the period when the story takes place. They represent everything great about the fashion and style of the era.
If you like Funny Girl for its inspiring tale and humor-oriented heroine, you’ll love Not That Jewish. Created by and starring Monica Piper, this show is about her life as a child of a Jewish show-business family from the Bronx. Monica covers many colorful situations she went through including building her career as a single mom. All this is delivered with an excellent sense of comedy and masterful writing.
On the other hand, you might want to see more of Fanny herself. In that case, you can watch the 1968 movie Funny Girl – if you haven’t seen it by now, that is. What you might not know is that the movie has a sequel from 1975 called Funny Lady. Like the original, this movie also stars Barbra Streisand who delivers the role with her signature charm, power, and grace.
Finally, you could check out another biographical musical about a female performer of the older generation. The movie in question is called Star! and features Julie Andrews in the leading role of Gertrude Lawrence.
A Review of the Reviews
As I’ve mentioned, many reviewers pointed out issues with Funny Girl. However, various aspects of the show received the deserved recognition.
The Hollywood Reporter emphasized Feldstein’s lovely singing voice, charm, and comedic talent. But the review also notices that the main role requires more power. Another interesting point brought up by this review is that the script had its shortcomings from the start. Funny Girl was created after a book which never managed to make the story flow.
Focusing on other roles, The Hollywood Reporter praises Ramin Karimloo’s performance as Nick. This is something most other reviewers have noticed, too. Another point is that the review doesn’t fail to mention the design that, while a bit reductive, occasionally outshines even the music and cast.
When it comes to music, again, most reviews agree that not all songs are particularly exciting and catchy. In my opinion, that makes the show even more challenging for the performers. I can’t help but think: Would Funny Girl become a classic if the original didn’t have a powerhouse like Streisand to carry the tunes?
Theatrely rated the show very high, calling it “a brilliant work” filled with “pure theatrical joy.” The review points out the direction, design, and costumes as the show’s strongest points, but also mentions an often overlooked aspect – lighting.
Collider calls Funny Girl “the… musical that we need” in this moment and highlights Karimloo’s charming scene presence. Like the previous, this review also states something I agree with completely: that Funny Girl shows us the pains and joys of growing up.
Variety didn’t cut the show any slack, calling it uninspired and blaming the revival for not being able to live up to the original’s potential. At the same time, the review calls out the flawed script that fails to bring sufficient character development.
While it’s brutally honest about the cons, Variety’s review has the same approach to pros. In particular, these are, by now commonplace, Ramin Karimloo and the music.
Funny Girl Lottery
In anticipation of Lea Michele taking over the lead, tickets for Funny Girl September showings are skyrocketing. But did you know that you can get a chance to watch the musical for a more than affordable price?
Besides regular purchase, Funny Girl production made tickets available through a lottery. Winners will be able to buy tickets for $47.50. The lottery will last throughout the show’s run.
The lottery for Funny Girl tickets open every Monday at 10 a.m. Everyone who applies can participate to win tickets for performances during that week. Every day at 12:30 a.m., the entries close and the winners are notified via email to get their tickets at about 11 a.m.
You can enter for a maximum of two tickets using the Lucky Seat website. Here’s how to participate:
To enter the lottery, you’ll need to sign up on the website and then login with your credentials. Note that the system will automatically discard double entries or those using a “burner” email address. Also, the name you give for your account will be checked against your ID. If the information doesn’t match, you won’t be able to attend the show.
The site will offer several ways to increase your chances for winning. In particular, when entering the lottery, you can check the boxes next to three options:
- That you intend on sharing the entry on Facebook
- That you’ll share your entry on Twitter; or
- That you’ll follow the Lucky Seat page on Instagram
Each box will count as an additional entry for the tickets. In effect, this will be equal to you entering the lottery four times instead of once.
Since this is a lottery, your entry might be void if such activities are prohibited by the law of your particular state. To enter, you must be at least 18 years old.
Once you log in, you can browse the site for shows. Find and select Funny Girl to enter the lottery.
When it’s time to draw the winners, you’ll receive an email notification whether you won the tickets or not. If you want to make sure you get the notification as soon as possible, you can enter your mobile number and give consent for the site to send you text messages. That way, you’ll get an SMS at drawing time, but only if you win the tickets.
Setting up your phone number is possible either through the sign-up page or in Account Preferences.
You may also apply through regular mail. In that case, you’ll need to mail your name, email, phone number, and the date and time when you want to see the show. The envelope should be addressed to: Lucky Seat, 246 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036 Attn: Funny Girl Lottery.
It’s possible to request SMS notifications through regular mail, too. Simply state in your entry letter that you want to get notified by text and that Lucky Seat can use the provided phone number to do so.
Similar to the website method, you can take several steps to increase your chances of winning. All you need to do is state in the letter that you intend to tell one, two, or three friends about the lottery. If you choose to tell four friends, you’ll get four entries instead of one.
If you win a ticket, you’ll receive the purchase link in the notification email. To proceed, you should follow the link and enter your credit card information on the purchase page. The facility fee and service charge, which amount to $7.50, are included in the price as well, so you won’t need to pay those separately.
It’s crucial to check the deadline for the purchase – you can see it on the page used to enter the lottery. If you win the tickets but miss the deadline, those tickets will no longer be valid.
While buying such cheap tickets is amazing, you should know that you might get partial view seats. Plus, even if you win two tickets, the seats might not be next to each other, although the lottery organization does its best to keep winning seats together.
If you need special accommodations or accessible seating, you should contact the Lucky Seat customer service and ask for assistance.
Finally, if you win the lottery and proceed with your purchase, you won’t be eligible for another entry for two months. Lottery tickets can’t be refunded, exchanged, transferred, or combined with another offer. This is because the prize doesn’t have cash value.
A Little Bit About the Characters
|Fanny Brice||A bright-eyed, driven, and romantic girl who uses her vast talent to follow her dreams despite the obstacles she faces.|
|Mrs. Rosie Brice||Fanny’s mother. A woman of great life experience who ferociously supports her daughter.|
|Nick Arnstein||Fanny’s love interest, Nick is a charming and good-looking but problematic person with a severe gambling addiction.|
|Eddie Ryan||A vaudeville dancer that Fanny meets in a show. Eddie becomes Fanny’s friend and encourages her throughout her journey.|
Lea Michele on Funny Girl
All odds are that Lea Michele will be an excellent addition to Funny Girl. Michele is a life-long fan of Barbra Streisand and Funny Girl in particular. In fact, her character on Glee is completely in love with the show and, in a classic case of life imitating art, proceeds to lead a Funny Girl Broadway revival.
Jane Lynch on Funny Girl
Jane Lynch was in the role of Mrs. Rosie Brice since April. The comedy veteran, unsurprisingly, gave an excellent performance and no one was looking forward to her departure, scheduled for September 4. However, Lynch came out with even worse news – that she would be leaving the show in mid-August.
Julie Benko on Funny Girl
Julie Benko jumped into the leading role to replace Beanie Feldstein while the original lead was on COVID leave. But, Julie took the role like she had been preparing for it her whole life. Even though many expect Lea Michele’s run to be phenomenal, I think it’s a shame we’ll be losing the opportunity to see more of Benko’s shining performance as Fanny.
Funny Girl Quotes
1. Fanny: Hello, gorgeous.
2. Nick: I’d be happy to wait while you change.
Fanny: I’d have to change too much; nobody could wait that long.
3. Fanny: A gentleman fits in anyplace.
Rose: A sponge fits in any place.
4. Fanny: I’m a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls.
5. Fanny: For once, I didn’t say too much – I said just enough and then walked away!
6. Rose: Fannie, love him a little less. Help him a little more.
7. Nick: Goodbye, funny girl.
8. Fanny: “No law against waiting,” I said, “People do it all the time.”
9. Fanny: If I can’t tell when you’re ordering roast beef and potatoes, how will I know when you’re making advances?
10. Fanny: Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter.
Funny Girl Vera
As an illustration of how developed and fleshed out the supporting cast is in Funny Girl, I’ll mention the minor role of Vera. She is a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies, a famous act of the era that Fanny started with. Vera’s role doesn’t contain any singing – her lines are entirely spoken. Vera is in her late teens but already a highly professional showgirl. To a certain point, her performing ambitions relate to Fanny’s, although she doesn’t have the same drive as our heroine.
Get Your Tickets
Funny Girl is a show worth experiencing, especially in its first Broadway revival. And now would be the best time to do so, while affordable tickets are still available. At the moment, September show tickets are being sold for $500 up to – and over – $2,000.
Don’t let yourself miss out on this classic Broadway gem. Get your tickets today and afford yourself a show you’ll never forget.