Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Funny Girl
National Tour Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of The Kite Runner

Katerina McCrimmon and Stephen Mark Lukas
Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade
The touring production of Funny Girl, now in Washington at the Kennedy Center Opera House, is a big, bright delight, beginning with the way the proscenium lighting flashes when the orchestra hits a crescendo during the overture. Katerina McCrimmon nails the star-making role of Fanny Brice, surrounded by a talented company including longtime pop singer Melissa Manchester as Fanny's wise mother.

While Funny Girl will always be known as the show that gave Barbra Streisand her breakthrough both on Broadway and in Hollywood, this staging makes a good case for the show on its own merits. Harvey Fierstein made some revisions to Isobel Lennart's original book to improve its sometimes choppy pacing, and the revival rearranges bits of the score and adds back a few songs by Jule Styne (music) and Bob Merrill (lyrics) cut from the original production.

Fanny Brice (1891-1951) may not be as well known today, but from the early 20th century into the 1940s she was a star comedienne and singer for impresario Florenz Ziegfeld in movies, and on radio. Funny Girl glosses over the rougher parts of the story and focuses on the "ugly duckling" Fanny triumphing onstage, if not off, thanks to her talent and chutzpah.

First of all, McCrimmon seizes the audience's attention from her first, silent entrance, then as she retraces Fanny's life in show business and her love for charming gambler Nick Arnstein (Stephen Mark Lukas, sleek and magnetic, with a ringing voice). Susan Hilferty's costume designs carry Fanny from her gawky days in bloomers through her elaborate Ziegfeld Follies outfits, to mature elegance.

The other flashy performance is Izaiah Montaque Harris as Eddie Ryan, the showy tap dancer who becomes Fanny's first friend in show business. Harris is charming and encouraging as he helps Fanny, and inexhaustible when he plunges into a blistering tap routine. Manchester is charming and self-possessed but appears in only a few scenes, and Walter Coppage amuses as Ziegfeld, who doesn't know at first what Fanny is capable of doing.

Ellenore Scott's choreography is clever and often ingenious, whether it's the two cornet-playing dancers supporting Fanny in "Cornet Man" or the elegance of the Ziegfeld chorus. David Zinn's scenic design offers surprises as it shifts from backstage to onstage and from the raffish Lower East Side to Fanny and Nick's elegant Long Island mansion.

Funny Girl runs through July 14, 2024, in the Opera House at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit For more information on the tour, visit

Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Bob Merrill
Book by Isobel Lennart, revised by Harvey Fierstein
Directed by Michael Mayer
Choreographed by Ellenore Scott
Tap choreography by Ayodele Casel
Music supervision by Michael Rafter

Fanny Brice: Katerina McCrimmon (Hannah Shankman at certain performances)
Emma: Leah Platt
John: Ryan Rodiño
Mrs. Strakosh: Eileen T'Kaye
Mrs. Meeker: Christine Bunuan (Cindy Chang at certain performances)
Mrs. Brice: Melissa Manchester
Eddie Ryan: Izaiah Montaque Harris
Tom Keeney: David Foley Jr.
Piano Player: Jackson Grove
Cornet Men: Jack Bianchi and Jackson Grove
Polly: Jordon Taylor
Bubbles: Missy Marion
Nick Arnstein: Stephen Mark Lukas
Maude: Dot Kelly
Florenz Ziegfeld: Walter Coppage
Tenor: Jackson Grove
Mrs. Nadler: Leah Platt
Virginia: Kate E. Cook
Vera: Alex Hartman
Paul: Sean Thompson
Mimsey: Sami Murphy
Actor: David Foley Jr.
Porter: Jackson Grove and Sean Thompson
Bartender: Sean Thompson
Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat Men: Jack Bianchi and Travis Ward-Osborne
Mr. Renaldi: Sean Thompson
Ensemble: Jack Bianchi, Kate E. Cook, Jackson Grove, Alex Hartman, Dot Kelly, Ryan Rodiño, Kathy Liu, Meghan Manning, Missy Marion, Sami Murphy, Jordon Taylor, Sean Thompson, Travis Ward-Osborne