Tag Archives: Zoe Ann Brown

REVIEW: Funny Girl – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

It needs a glittering and glorious central performance to elevate the thin story of early Broadway star Fanny Brice to something spectacular, and that is precisely what Natasha J Barnes delivers in Michael Mayer’s stunning revival of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s classic Funny Girl.

From a 15-year-old at Keeney’s Theater in Brooklyn, through the Ziegfeld Follies to super stardom, Brice’s beaming Broadway smile disguises a world of personal pain, mostly at the hands of her devastatingly handsome, inveterate gambler of a husband, Nick Arnstein (Darius Campbell). Ultimately, Brice’s success is her downfall. After landing the man of her dreams, her generosity, and disbelief at her luck in doing so, leads to Arnstein’s emasculation and his departure.

With the 1968 film performance of a certain Barbra Streisand indelibly etched in the memory, Barnes has a big job to make the role her own. It requires an actress that can take Fanny from the big Broadway belters to nuanced comedy, to searing heartbreak and back to slapstick, and boy does Barnes deliver in spades. A natural comedienne, Barnes handles the laughs with ease, not an easy achievement when the comedy is as broad as this. There’s finesse and there’s charisma, and there’s an impressive set of pipes on display.

As Arnstein, the object of Brice’s desire and devotion, and the cause of her emotional downfall, Darius Campbell, here in his home city, is a commanding presence and ably matches Barnes’ dazzling central performance. His deep, dark baritone and undoubted good looks eliciting oohs and ahhs throughout.

In support, Broadway and West End veteran Rachel Izen is particularly memorable as Fanny’s formidable mother as is Joshua Lay as Brice’s long-time friend and close confidant Eddie Ryan – Lay has impeccable comic timing and is a fine dancer. The ensemble is universally on point, Lynne Page’s beautifully detailed choreography executed with energy and precision. Mention must also be made of the crystal clear diction of the entire cast, something that is woefully lacking in most musical theatre casts today, every word, every lyric landing perfectly on its mark.

Michael Pavelka’s set, framed with an off-kilter proscenium arch, takes us seamlessly from New York’s Lower East Side tenements, to back (and front) stage of the Ziegfeld Follies, a Baltimore train station, and Fanny’s Long Island mansion.

Yes, the story of this woman, a self-proclaimed ‘bagel on a plate of onion rolls’ is a bit thin, but the performances are faultless. This is an unmissable, memorable and long-overdue revival of a musical theatre classic. Pure class from curtain up to curtain down.

Runs until 3 June 2017 | Image: Manuel Harlan

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub here

REVIEW: The Sound of Music – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-sound-of-music-kings-theatre-glasgow/

Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s, musical theatre classic The Sound of Music is still managing to delight audiences, almost 60 years on since its first appearance on stage.

On Gary McCann’s impressive set, complemented by Nick Richings’ perfectly judged lighting design, with an exquisite sounding orchestra led by David Steadman, and under Martin Connor’s sure-footed direction, this polished production is a quality piece of musical theatre.

Danielle Hope is a fresh-faced and youthful Maria (saddled however with a rather unfortunate wig) who has clearly been taking lessons at the Julie Andrews’ School of Musical Theatre Diction, her dialogue is razor sharp and her enunciation would make Miss Andrews proud. She is also in possession of an impressive vocal range which she uses to great effect in these much-loved classics. If criticism were to be made though, she does lack a little of the vitality and spark that the role requires.

Hope has in support, a strong ensemble cast: the troupe of von Trapp children are a beguiling bunch, delightfully un-precocious and singing like angels, they manage to bring a realism to roles which have, in other productions, tended to verge upon the saccharine sweet. Jan Hartley’s Mother Abbess rendition of the anthem “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” is also worthy of praise; quite literally a show-stopper, bringing as it does the curtain down on Act One and Steven Houghton is a solid, if at times a little stiff, Captain von Trapp, he does however deliver a well-judged, heart-felt “Edelweiss” as the show builds to its conclusion.

Where the 2015 tour deviates from previous productions is that it trims Maria’s “I Have Confidence” (possibly due to its already lengthy running time) and the Nazi threat that pervades the big screen version is somewhat missing here. However, when the swastika background drops down during the family’s appearance at the music festival, there is a tangible mood shift in the auditorium.

It remains a great story, with truly great songs and there is much to praise here in this deftly-handled production with its solid and highly accomplished cast. It is so well-loved, by so many, that to criticise it is like kicking a puppy. If a show can make the corners of your mouth turn up involuntarily into a smile on recognition of the first notes of a tune, then it has got to be a winner in anyone’s book.

Runs until Saturday 28 February 2015 then touring

Photo credit: Pamela Raith