Funny Girl

| October 13, 2016

Funny Girl

Skokie Theatre, Skokie, IL, September 18, 2016

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

Photo: Kevin Krust Multimedia

Photo: Kevin Krust Multimedia

The 140-seat Skokie Theatre has, in a few years, become home to individual cabaret artists and showcase producers. Delivering full-blown musicals, however, has been challenging, largely because its stage is rather small. Thanks to an intelligent set designed by G. “Max” Maxim IV, this problem is addressed. Each side of the stage featured a tall staircase of Art Deco black and white. That gave director Stephen M. Genovese “room” for the attractive stage pictures to recreate the essence of the lush Ziegfeld Follies.” Funny Girl’s cast brought bountiful talent. Sally Staats was a convincing Fanny Brice and sang beautifully. It took her a number or two to find her comic chops but, once she had, she was a hoot. She landed the goofiness in “His Love Makes Me Beautiful” as the pregnant bride upstaging Ziegfeld’s over-the-top production number with just the right mix of hokum and chutzpah She sings and interprets nicely. “People” was delivered with tenderness, but no sappiness. Act II’s “Who Are You Now?” blended love and dismay as Fanny tries to hold on to the erstwhile husband, Nick Arnstein.

Rob Ibanez was a handsome Nick, but sometimes a tad stiff. Mario Mazzetti was outstanding as Eddie Ryan, Fanny’s protector and champion (who is also besotted with her). Mazzetti dances like a gazelle, sings with aplomb and knows how to land shtick with the best of ‘em. Meagan Piccochi captured the essence of Mrs. Brice—simultaneously worried and proud. She also knew when to embody the mildly irritated straight man for Jessica Noelle Evan’s funny, jealous (of Fanny’s successes ) Mrs. Strakosh. The ensemble/chorus added positive energy to the production with no little thanks to Julie Salk’s imaginative choreography. Since there is no space for an orchestra pit at the Skokie, the ”orchestra” was placed upstage and raised above the performers at the top height level of the performers. This added to the festive feeling of Follies numbers without upstaging the happenings at Mrs. Brice’s bar. With Funny Girl, the Skokie earns its stripes to deliver book musicals. More, please.

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Category: Chicago, Chicago Musical Theatre Reviews, Musical Theatre Reviews, Off-Broadway Reviews, Regional

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