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A Rarely Seen Revival, Funny Girl Streams Forward With a Big Wide Grin



The Guy Said Honey, You’re a Funny Girl…A few years ago, tickets went on sale for the West End transfer of Menier Chocolate Factory’s production of Funny Girl starring Sheridan Smith, a television and stage actress widely knows for her leading role performances in Little Shop of Horrors (2007) and Legally Blonde (2010).  I impatiently snatched up two tickets for a summer London trip that had yet to be planned nor even discussed with my fellow theatre junkie. It was the first full-scale revival ever of this star-making musical and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to reveal in it.  After opening in December of 2015, the show sold out within one day, and transferred to the West End’s Savoy Theatre on April 9, 2016, for a run through to mid-October, extending once due to the high demand for tickets.  So I felt lucky, at the time, to have gotten two really good seats.


To say that I’m a fan of the show, well, of the film really, is an understatement of the highest order, and the fact that no one has dared to revive this show since its initial Broadway staging back in 1964 (1,348 performances) with Barbra Streisand embodying the part of Fanny Brice, says buckets regarding the lasting connection we all have with her portrayal. I was non-fussed, though, as someone was bound to come along, and stage a revival eventually, starring someone that would try not to mimic Streisand but create an original fresh take on the bittersweet story of Fanny Brice and her husband, gambling man Nick. There was an initial rush of somewhat confused joy when a revival, directed by Bartlett Sher, was announced, premiering at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in January 2012 with Lauren Ambrose starring as Fanny Brice and Bobby Cannavale as Nicky Arnstein. This was before she made her Broadway musical debut in Lincoln Center’s My Fair Lady, so I didn’t quite get the casting of Ambrose. Turns out, she has an amazingly beautiful voice, although I still don’t see the Fanny in her frame. The highly anticipated revival was then slated to open on Broadway in April 2012. However, producer Bob Boyett announced in late 2011 that the production had to be postponed indefinitely because “many Broadway producing investors have found it impossible to maintain their standard level of financial commitment.“One odd revival of note, was the 2014 reimagining in the hands of the director Joil Newman who flipped the female role of Fanny to a male named Funnie Brice. The actor Julio Cesar Arturo Valverde Monje played the iconic character first in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the Teatro Opera, and then toured the rest of South America to sold-out shows. I mean, I don’t quite see it, but hey, if Sondheim can do it with Company. Why not, is all one can say.Years ago, I thought it might be Lea Michelle and the producer of television’s “Glee”, Ryan Murphy (who I believe owned the rights for a Broadway revival). She most definitely has the voice, and the stage presence to give that part a real run for the money, but I had my doubts. She sounds almost too similar to Streisand, which might actually kill the production, making it impossible to put every gesture and intonation of Streisand out of our heads while trying to see it anew. And is she really all that funny? So I was so very excited to see this daring West End revival and dive into Smith’s take on the role. I was extremely optimistic.


But as luck will have it (good or bad luck, I’ll leave it up to you to decide), I never did find out if Smith could do the role, at least on that London trip. The critics said she was ‘the jewel at the heart of this production’ (The Telegraph, April 21, 2016), but on April 28th, 2016 the show was halted 15 minutes into Act One, and thereafter, ‘due to the indisposition of Sheridan Smith’, the role of Fanny Brice would be played by her understudy Natasha J Barnes. It was reported it was due to stress and exhaustion, so it was Barnes that I saw on that trip, and it was Barnes who I thought was utterly spectacular.  A star-making kind of moment, I had stated at the time, and one that I am grateful to have been in attendance.

FG-6738_RT Sheridan Smith and Ensemble (Paul Coltas)_1

That’s where I live, on stage,” Fanny says. So four years later while on COVID-19 isolation in Toronto, I finally had the chance to find out if Smith truly is and was that fine jewel within the show. Filmed in full bloom during the final week of the UK tour at the Manchester Palace Theatre in 2018, the festive revival of Funny Girl, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill, is an easy-breezy performance to take in. It floats forth full of fun and big grins, but I must admit she doesn’t have the required killer voice to knock those songs out of the park with power. She definitely has the presence to hold onto our attention and make us believe in her funny girl Ziegfeld fame. Framed by Michael Pavelka’s flashy blinking light set, the titled proscenium arches draw our eye inward, making us feel like she is only fully comfortable when on stage. The silhouette from behind looking out into the audience is the perfect set up, just like the first time we see Streisand in the famed film. It’s classic and tells the tale we already know and love. She sings with charm and wit, occasionally belting out broadly a moment here and there, but unfortunately, never with enough guts to make us forget Barbra.Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl. Savoy Theatre, London, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson.

She finds layers to unwrap inside that Brooklyn jokester who quickly climbs up the entertainment ladder to become a bonafide Ziegfeld star before she even knows it. “I haven’t suffered enough“, she says, and we all laughingly groan alongside her mother and friends. She’s perpetually putting on a goofy big smile, even sometimes as her heart is breaking. A laugh is just her best defense mechanism against the pain and loss she is feeling, even if it lessens the emotional moment. Tears cascade down her face during a wonderfully engaging rendition of ‘People‘, with a joke and a tap dance not too far behind. Smith never tries to replicate her famous predecessor, giving the songs a story entirely of their own. She does justice to Styne’s well-known melodies with unique solid emotion, never faltering or failing. Her “Don’t Rain on My Parade” sings strong, while never mimicking the defiance of Barbra’s rendition. It’s a strong understanding of the piece and the role, but she also never seems as funny as she thinks she is, especially during the seduction number with Nick. “You are Woman” doesn’t have the danger, nor the sexual electricity to believe in the dynamic.Sheridan Smith (center) performing “Cornet Man” with Peter Nash and Lloyd Davies in Funny Girl.

I also noticed something this time around that I never thought of when I saw it before with Barnes. The staged numbers that Smith performs as Fanny never rise up to the same level as the movie counterparts, I ached for the simple “I’d Rather Be Blue Over You (Than Happy With Somebody Else)”, “Second Hand Rose” or the wickedly funny “Swan Lake” parody, but nothing in the stage version, particularly the mediocre “Cornet Man” and “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat“, comes remotely close. They are not as funny, nor as beautiful. Smith is a great actress and a pretty good singer but she never comes close to Streisand’s epic performance in the film version or her ability to be funny without over-selling the joke. Streisand won an Oscar for the 1968 film version of her Broadway breakthrough. but to compare this show to the film constantly is a disservice to all involved in this revival. So I’ll TRY not to,….but I can’t promise I won’t.

Sheridan Smith and Darius Campbell in Funny Girl. Photo: Marc Brenner.
FG-6824_RT Sheridan Smith and Joshua Lay (Paul Coltas)_2

Darius Campbell as Nick Arnstein is tuxedo worthy of Fanny’s endearing adoration. He’s “gorgeous“, as she likes to point out, and stands glaringly tall above all around him. He gives off a solid sexy charisma that would sweep pretty much anyone off their feet, but for the most part, the role never really gives the actor much of a chance to show off. There are moments, here and there, when we think, my, that was a lovely note or phrase, but his awkward dancing in “Temporary Arrangement” never pays off in the numbers given. It doesn’t help that the Harvey Fierstein revised version of Lennart’s thin book doesn’t give him a realistic “choking” moment to flail around in. The result is a lopsided love affair that doesn’t ever feel truly electric. Then again, this musical has always been about its female lead, and this particular staging spotlights the aura of the Ziegfeld Follies over the real-life romantic troubles of Fanny and her marriage to Nick. They are a side note here, a gazing in the mirrored walls on the edge of the stage, showcasing his beauty, but little else.

Director Michael Mayer’s production keeps up the hard-working pace, just like its talented heroine, moving the story along with skill and never really taking the tale too dramatically serious. He has Smith mugging for laughs as if her life depended on it, physically looking for the joke in every tailored moment, even when a more subtle one might do the trick, much like Lynne Page’s elbow nudging choreography. It’s all big and obvious, to the extreme. Smith displays her strengths, though with ease. She does well in uncomplicated numbers like “I‘m the Greatest Star“, but doesn’t manage to find the soul in the more heartfelt numbers. The best is the duet with Campbell’s Nick mid-Act Two, “Who Are You Now?” that finally gives the two of them a chance to shine together emotionally, a rare thing to be found in this rendition of the stage musical.


In many ways, the stage musical is well rounded and traditional, giving several characters and situations more to play with than the Fanny-focused Streisand film. Mother Brice, well played by Rachel Izen, and the two other poker-playing ladies; Zoe Ann Bown and Myra Sands, find flavor and fun in their side-act moments, while the more complex character, Eddie Ryan, played strongly by Joshua Lay, gets a few of his own moments to shine in, such as the mother/Eddie duet, “Who Taught Her Everything?” It’s a true showmanship number and one that leaves us wanting more from the both of them.Sheridan Smith and Joshua Lay. The stage musical does differ a fair amount from the movie but it also holds on to most of the lovely parts.  I did, both now and back then, miss “My Man“, the song that brings the movie to a powerful end, and wished to hear Smith’s version, but what she does with the reprise blending of “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade” as the final song is quite the stand-up-and-cheer kind of moment. All in all, this streamed filmed version of the stage production of Funny Girl is a fun slice of high entertainment to behold.  I do believe the movie version was an improvement on the stage musical on a number of different levels, but in terms of a classic stage revival, this Funny Girl from Menier Chocolate Factory is well rounded and perfectly solid in its delivery. Streisand knowingly sang back in the day, “ya gotta have a swan or you’re outta luck, cause a chicken wouldn’t do, it would only cluck.” This revival sadly doesn’t best the swan, nor was it able to make me forget the film, but it certainly doesn’t cluck either.If you can, please donate to the Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre (click here) or a theatre near you. They are all in need, and desperately need your help.

Funny Girl
Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl. Savoy Theatre, London, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson.

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My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to


The Glorious Corner



Carmine Appice and David Salidor

G.H. Harding

SIXX APPICE –— (Via Ultimate Clsssic Rock) Nikki Sixx  spoke out against  Carmine Appice’s claim that guitarist Mick Mars had been in dispute with his bandmates in the run-up to his retirement from Motley Crue. Mars’ departure was announced on the completion of their 2022 Stadium Tour, with John 5 named as his replacement soon afterwards. The official reason given was that Mars’ longterm illness had finally caught up with him – but in a recent interview, former Ozzy Osbourne and Vanilla Fudge drummer Appice suggested otherwise.

Motley Crue 1985 by Mark Weiss

“[Mars] told me, ‘When I was on the Stadium Tour, I was not happy,’” Appice told Ultimate Guitar. “Basically, everything was on tape; it was all planned out and ultimately a lot of crap. … The truth is that everything has been weird for a while with Motley Crue… Mick told me that people that came to see it could tell that it was all pre-recorded and that everything was on tape.”

Appice added that Mars “would travel alone on a bus while the other guys flew everywhere,” and continued: “He said, ‘Man, these guys are pissing their money away, flying to every gig.’ They were all busy still trying to be rock stars, and Mick just wanted to play the music. … [T]here were a lot of disagreements. I think he was just done.” When Mars was told about Crue’s World Tour with Def Leppard, Appice claimed, the guitarist told his colleagues: “You can do it. I’m not going out with you for this.”

Earlier this week Sixx appeared to refer indirectly to Appice’s comments, tweeting: “Love how people talk FOR us without talking TO us. This is why the media has lost credibility. Obviously by printing BS they make money off of advertising and we’re not into that clickbait game. When the truth comes out it will be FROM us.”

But he was more direct during a Twitter Q&A session last night. “A washed up drummer trying to speak for us? And bottom feeder media running with it to make money off of lies? Welcome to the sad new world of LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME,” the bassist wrote.

He more or less repeated the same answer when asked: “Is what Carmine Appice said true?” Sixx replied: “A washed up drummer speaking for our band without any of the facts is as ridiculous as bottom feeder media running with stories without fact checking. When you hear the truth it will be from us.” He later commented: “It’s a funny money game.”

Crue will continue on the road through much of the year. Asked if 5’s status in the group was secure, Sixx stated: “Of course. He’s our guitar player. We have big plans.

Seems like there’s really a rumble in the metal-jungle. First off, I love these names … but, the name ‘Carmine Appice’ actually sounds pretty normal.

The metal world is a rough one for sure with fanzines named Blabbermouth; Louder Sound; Metal Edge; Metal Anarchy; Chaoszine; and Metal Injection. Remember, look before you leap!

The Longhorn

SHORT TAKES — Growing up, every Sunday night was family-dinner night at the steak-eatery The Longhorn in Rockville Center, Long Island. Sure it was a long-time ago, but the memory survives (as does the memory of our favorite waiter Tomas). Did you know that Micky Dolenz’s father George, owner and operated a restaurant in the heart of the Sunset Strip called The Marquis? The always regal-Alison Martino did a terrific piece on it, check it out here:

Do you know the HLN Network? I really didn’t either, but it turns out its owned by CNN and Warner Brothers. This past weekend they ran a Fringe-fest, consisting of all the season of that show (2008-2013) which was one of my all time favorites. I watched most of it and it’s uncanny how well the show holds up. It features the wondrous John Noble; Joshua Jackson; Anna Torv and the late-Lance Reddick. The writing was just off the charts and more than being a sci-fi shows, it was about relationships. Just uncannily brilliant. Right up there with the X-Files and Lost
Is it me or has the movie 80 For Brady dropped like a lead-balloon? There was a top-heavy PR-campaign before it came out and then nada. I’d still like to see it …  HAPPY BDAY Andrew Freeman and Larry Yasgur.NAMES IN THE NEWS — Charles F. Rosenay; Jodi Ritzen; Jim Burgess; Richie Kaczor; Wayne Avers; Andrew Sandoval; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Jodi Ritzen; Donna Quinter-Dolenz; Cindy Ronzoni; Kim Garner; Alan Rothstein; Crimshaw; Julian Lennon; Roger Friedman; Felipe Rose; Shep Pettibone; Mark Simone; Harvey Levin; Randy Jones; Bruce Haring; Andy Greene; and BELLA!
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Grace Jones, Bruce Hornsby Comes To The Blue Note Jazz Festival



The Blue Note Jazz Festival runs from May 31st through July 2nd.

On May 31st Grace Jones, singer, actress, author, traveller, artist and revolutionist will be playing at the Hammerstein Ballroom at 8pm. Her CD ‘Hurricane,’ received widespread praise. In 1977 Jones secured her first record deal resulting in a string of dance-club hits including “I Need A Man” and her acclaimed reinvention of Edith Piaf’s classic “La Vie En Rose.” The three disco albums she recorded, ‘Portfolio’ (1977), ‘Fame’ (1978) and ‘Muse’ (1979), generated considerable success in the market and established her as a major recording artist.

Jones also became a muse to Andy Warhol who photographed her extensively and created a series of iconic portraits of her.

Jones is equally famous for her motion picture roles in such features as “Conan the Destroyer” (1984) co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, “A View to a Kill” (1985) co-starring Roger Moore as James Bond, the vampire thriller “Vamp” (in which Keith Haring famously painted her body for her role as an undead exotic dancer) and “Boomerang” (1992) co-starring Eddie Murphy (for which she recorded the song “7 Day Weekend”).

On June 3rd at Town Hall Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers with special guests John Scofield, Kenny Garrett & Christian McBride.

Bruce Hornsby, pianist Bruce Hornsby writes powerful songs from the heart that touch on several distinctly American traditions: pop, jazz, bluegrass, and 1960s soul. He recorded with his backing band the Range. Hornsby ultimately rejected the musical mainstream, disbanding the Range so he could tour with the Grateful Dead in the early ’90s, then exploring a variety of adventurous musical fusions on his own that decade and with the Noisemakers in the 2000s. Along the way, Hornsby collaborated with everybody from bluegrass picker Ricky Skaggs to jazz musicians Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette while also spending time composing scores for Spike Lee, but his real revival arrived in the 2010s when Justin Vernon cited Hornsby as an influence and invited the pianist to play on Bon Iver’s 2019 album I, I. Hornsby embraced the opportunities that arose with a series of electronic-inflected, unpredictable albums that ran from 2019’s Absolute Zero through 2022’s ‘Flicted.

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Time to Take a Trip on Amtrak From NYC To Washington DC For $20



The amazing cherry blossom trees in Washington DC are open, around April 4 and last as late as April 18.  Now there is a really inexpensive way to see this remarkable site. New low fares now available on select Amtrak trains departing from 7pm – 5am traveling between New York City, DC and stops in between. Night Owl fares offer the same great coach service you expect on Amtrak, but at a new low price. Book today and save!

What to Expect Onboard

  • Large comfortable leather seats, with plenty of space and legroom to stretch out, or curl up.
  • No Middle Seats – ever.
  • Free WiFi and power outlets at your seat.
  • Bring up to four bags free – yes, two personal items and two bags – for free.
  • Easy downtown-to downtown service.
  • Arrive at station minutes, not hours, before departure for quick and easy boarding.
  • Looking to rest along the way? Grab a seat in the quiet car.

So, skip the hassles of airports and driving. There is no reason to catch a red eye when you can be a Night Owl.

*Please note Moynihan Train Hall is closed from 1am to 5am daily. Please plan to depart from or arrive at Penn Station during the hours of 1am – 5am.

Sample One-Way Coach Fares To/From:

  • New York – Washington: $20
  • New York – Baltimore/BWI: $15
  • Washington – Newark/Newark Liberty: $15
  • New York – Philadelphia: $10
  • New York – Wilmington: $10
  • Philadelphia – Washington: $10
  • Washington – Wilmington $10
  • Philadelphia – Baltimore/BWI: $5
  • New York – Newark/Newark Liberty: $5
  • Washington – Baltimore/BWI: $5
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