Funny Girl Review – Wright State University – Hello, Gorgeous


Wright State University supplies an entertaining production of the rarely attempted but incredibly tuneful 1964 musical comedy “Funny Girl,” the Jule Style, Bob Merrill and Isobel Lennart classic chronicling the rise of legendary vaudeville comedienne-turned-Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice.

Director Greg Hellems, offering a fluid, cinematic vision, curiously double casts the spirited, vocally demanding leading role so it’s imperative to tell you this show specifically dazzles in the hands of Melissa Hall, a charming actress who was just as winning and hilarious last season as Penny Pingleton in “Hairspray.” A lively bundle of energy worth rooting for, Hall endearingly depicts Fanny’s larger than life personality, appealing go-getter spirit and the engaging stage presence that fueled her reputation throughout the early 20th century. She also handles Styne and Merrill’s lovely score with impressive vigor and nuance, adeptly conveying the rip-roaring determination within “I’m the Greatest Star” and the tender sentimentality of “People,” “Who Are You Now?” and “The Music That Makes Me Dance.” Most importantly, Hall beautifully interprets “People” as a philosophy and her dynamic “Don’t Rain on My Parade” perfectly captures Fanny’s firm resolve at the end of Act 1 and her amazing resilience at the end of Act 2.


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