Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Hanna's "Funny Girl" Is Big, Bright and Brassy

Cleveland Press January 25, 1966

The tunes might not grip you, but the performances will. "Funny Girl" is that kind of show.

The offering at the Hanna for the next three weeks is a highly entertaining one due to a talented comepany and first rate production. The singing, dancing and acting are Broadway caliber and don't go kissing this one off with patronizing remarks about touring shows.

As everyone must know by now the show is based on the life of Fanny Brice, beginning with her first efforts to crash Broadway, her signing and starring with Ziegfeld up through the post World War I years and her romance, marriage and breakup with gambler Nicky Arnstein.

The book is best when it concentrates op the antics of Miss Brice, a brash ugly duckling who yells: "You think beautiful girls are gonna be in style forever?" A comedienne who is always on, though there are moments when it may be covering up fear or heartbreak.

AT ITS WORST, dealing with her unhappy romance, it becomes sticky and almost unplayable.

Marilyn Michaels is Fanny Brice and a strong voiced versatile and funny performer she is. Playing this role at this point must be a challenging assignment. It is difficult to ascertain how much of the portrayal is Fanny Brice, Barbra Streisand or Marilyn Michaels.

Whatever the combination, Miss Michaels is a gifted mimic and clown, a singer who belts out a song and belts it hard.

Danny Carroll is featured as a hoofer who teaches Fanny Brice the song and dance routines. This man is oh so very good and the show could have taken more of him.

LILLIAN ROTH makes of the mother a genial, warm person and you believe her when she says: "I don't want to be young, I did that already."

She and Danny Carroll team up on two wonderful numbers, "Who Taught Her Everything?" and "Find Yourself a Man."

Anthony George is a handsome, genial charmer as Arnstein and is exceptionally good -- in spite of the aforementioned sticky writing -- in the breakup scenes.

The company is loaded with bright and talented boys and girls, the costumes are colorful and the dances well staged.

THE WELl-KNOWN "People," "Don't Rain on My Parade" and "Who Are You Now" are the best songs of the score, not one of composer Jule Styne's best efforts. Bob Merrill's lyrics, on the other hand, are pointed and witty.

"Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat," a flagwaving, patriotic song is an excellent production number. The funniest scene in the show is a seduction scene in a private dining room in a restaurant during which Fanny Brice sings: "How many girls become a sinner waiting for a roast beef dinner," and wonders if a convent would accept a Jewish girl.

There was a disturbing shrillness to the sound last night. This was attributed to the fact that Miss lIichaels was wearing a transmitter microphone which made her own songs and dialog, whenever she put her head down, uncomfortably loud.

And when Anthony George got close to her in the love scenes and whispered, it came out as a shout. The trouble was partially corrected during the second act.