Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying?

The National Tour of Funny Girl launched in September in Providence, Rhode Island.

By: Sep. 27, 2023
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Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying?
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The National Tour of Funny Girl launched earlier this month in Providence, Rhode Island. The highly-aniticipated tour is now underway, continuing on to more than 30 cities coast-to-coast, including engagements in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

The cast is led by Grammy Award®-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester as Mrs. Brice and rising star Katerina McCrimmon as Fanny Brice, Stephen Mark Lukas as Nick Arnstein, Izaiah Montaque Harris as Eddie RyanWalter Coppage as Florenz Ziegfeld, Leah Platt as Emma/Mrs. Nadler, Christine Bunuan as Mrs. Meeker, Eileen T’Kaye as Mrs. Strakosh, and David Foley Jr. as Tom Keeney.

The full touring production cast will include ensemble members Vinny AndaloroLamont BrownKate E. CookJulia Grondin, Jackson Grove, Jorge Guerra, Dot Kelly, Alex Hartman, Ryan Lambert, Kathy Liu, Zoey Lytle, Meghan Manning, Bryan Charles MooreSami MurphyHannah Shankman, Jordon Taylor, Sean Thompson, and Annaliese Wilbur. 

Read the reviews below!

Photo Credit: Evan Zimmerman

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Christopher Verleger, BroadwayWorld: From start to finish, the production is one show-stopping number after another, with eye-catching, intricate sets, magnificent dance routines, and finely detailed, colorful costumes that perfectly recreate the era. “Henry Street,” the dazzling show-within-a-show, features all the quintessential trimmings of a vintage stage act that would make Ziegfeld himself proud.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Kimberly Rau, WPRO: And since it’s Fanny’s show, the person who plays her has to be just as incredible as the character. This tour’s struck gold with the incomparable Katerina McCrimmon. Her voice is one of the best I’ve heard in 10 years of reviewing theater, and she has enough talent and chutzpah for at least three actors.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Marvin Heinritz, Revue: Katerina McCrimmon is a phenomenal Fanny—quirky, adorable, quick, clever, ambitious, and utterly romantic all at once. She’s an exquisite comedienne with an astounding vocal range and ability: she makes you laugh out loud with her timing and delivery of lines but also gives you goosebumps and makes you verklempt as she alternately belts out huge songs and soothes you with sweet ballads by Jule Style with lyrics from Bob Merrill.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Will Demers, Edge Media Network: That the producers went with a complete unknown only shows their confidence with McCrimmon who makes her tour debut (she previously appeared in the non-singing 'The Rose Tattoo' on Broadway) with this role. You'll not often hear a voice as amazing as hers; she is most definitely a young actress who'll go places -- not only can she sing, her performance IS pure musical theater. 'Hello Gorgeous' indeed! If you see at least one show this year, seek out this one in your town and you will be telling your friends what a time you had.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? John Kissane, The Rapidan: Fortunately, Katerina McCrimmon (as Fanny Brice) has talent to burn. She’s staggeringly charismatic. She’s funny, yes. Given the title, she’d better be. But she’s achingly human, too. She sang so well that, more than once, I found myself shivering.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Susan McDonald, Providence Journal: From the slower sounds of “Who Are You Now?” launching the show to the soaring notes of such popular numbers as “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “People,” McCrimmon’s voice is clear and rich, transitioning the ranges easily and quickly. With her consistent grasp on a Jewish Brooklyn accent, there are moments when her voice harks back to Streisand’s, and her ascent to the last note in “I’m the Greatest Star” proves breathtaking.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Carmichael Cruz, Click On Detroit: Stepping up to the crimson plate is relative newcomer Katerina McCrimmon. With one of the strongest voices on tour right now and with her fearless attitude, McCrimmon puts every ounce of her on the stage: singing, dancing and making the over 2,000 patrons inside the Fisher Theatre laugh for almost three hours. McCrimmon is a star with the pipes to back her up. From character-driven songs like “His Love Makes Me Beautiful” to her softer side in “People,” McCrimmon navigates Fanny’s humanity effortlessly, toning down the zaniness in moments of realness. Lorne Michaels: if you’re ever looking for your next SNL cast member, she’s right here.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? AniKatrina Fageol, BroadwayWorld: Katerina McCrimmon IS Fanny Brice in every way. Her bold brassy voice and her comedic timing make her a hilarious stand-out from the long-legged blonde chorus showgirls she is surrounded by. She excels at physical comedy and her facial expressions had the audience in laughter for the entire show. But she also captured the emotions of a melancholy wife just as well, which was a pleasure to see.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Penny Tannenbaum, BroadwayWorld: While McCrimmon belts every tune her larynx touches out of the park – and knows enough from Jewish to give her Fanny a slightly yiddishe ta’am – she doesn’t arrive with the name recognition of her Broadway counterparts. So the tour not only comes to us equipped with McCrimmon’s considerable verve and talent, we’re also favored with the presence of Melissa Manchester as Fanny’s mom, Rose Brice, a role that was juicy enough for Kay Medford to earn Tony Award and Oscar nominations back in the ‘60s.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Timoth David Copney, BroadwayWorld: This production is not quite as lavish as I was expecting, but the big, bold, beautiful cast more than makes up for any lack of scenery. Harvey Fierstein is credited with revising the book, and the music by Jules Styne and Bob Merrill holds up just fine. The songs are so familiar that the audience knows most of them, but there are a few surprises for those of us who have only seen the movie, which differs from the stage version in some significant ways, including expanded roles for some supporting characters.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Herb Merrick, MD Theatre Guide: Katerina McCrimmon played Fanny Brice with humor, pathos, and gusto. She has a very strong, powerful voice, an expressive face, and is a dynamo on stage. She sings and dances in more than half the musical numbers, her energy is boundless, and she has an arresting stage presence and comedic timing that are captivating. Hers is an astounding performance. Fanny’s mother, played by understudy Eileen T’Kaye in place of Melissa Manchester (no explanation given), did a superb job in her many scenes with her poker-playing friends. She has a wry sense of humor, a strong, clear voice, and handles well the difficult task of playing a “stage mother” with tenderness and compassion who is concerned for her daughter’s welfare and happiness. Stephen Mark Lukas, playing the con man Nicky Arnstein, has such a nice tenor voice and is so appealing that it took me as long as it took Fanny to realize what a disreputable snake he was.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Rick Karlin, OutSFL : Harvey Fierstein’s new book streamlines the action and new technology allows one scene to flow into the next in an almost cinematic fashion. Still erasing the image of Barbra Streisand playing the role, whether you were lucky enough to see it on stage or only know it from the film version, is a difficult task. Lea Michelle did it on Broadway by emulating Barbra while still making the role her own and Beenie Feldstein, well, enough has been written about that. Watching South Florida’s own Katerina McCrimmon in the production playing Fannie Brice I was skeptical, and never for once did I feel she was Jewish, but by the time she sings “I’m the Greatest Star” I was won over.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Drew Eberhard, BroadwayWorld: Katerina McCrimmon is the perfect Fanny Brice, and the truest embodiment of the character. A South Florida native, Katerina fills some very big shoes and proves she is the absolute it-girl! There is no mistaking her natural comedic timing, and her powerful voice, backed by a very strong stage presence from the first time she utters, “Hello, Gorgeous!” I fell in love with this show all over again, and in the capable hands of Ms. McCrimmon the sky is the limit, and her Fanny Brice, will go down as one of the strongest turns to date.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Aaron Wallace, BroadwayWorld: But when it comes time for the iconic “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” which is technically perfect in McCrimmon’s delivery, I can’t help but notice that the room isn’t alive with the same electricity that had Broadway patrons hovering above their seats waiting to explode into a mid-song standing ovation for Michele.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Seth Kubersky, Orlando Weekly: Perhaps that fraught New York production would still be running if they had cast Katerina McCrimmon, whose performance in the leading role is by far the best reason to see this touring production. McCrimmon is a triple-threat dynamo who holds the audience’s focus every second she’s on stage, boasting a nasal Brooklyn bray in the comedic scenes, and a bell-toned belt for Jule Styne’s soaring tunes like “People” that gave me chills just like a vintage Babs album.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Jeffrey Ellis, BroadwayWorld: I can honestly say I didn’t know just how much I wanted to love Funny Girl – I’d never seen a completely staged live performance, had read all the scuttlebutt about its creaky plotline and structure and its idealized, if fantastical, portrait of its central characters, was clued in to all the controversy connected to its recent Broadway revival – I felt informed and eminently prepared to see what they had in store for audiences in 2024. My reaction? I loved everything about it! Truth be told, It fed my musical theater-loving soul, and I fell head-over-heels with its stars and their outsized talents (They sing! They dance! They charm!). Hell, if I weren’t already booked, I’d see every performance while they’re in town and so, certainly, should you.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Anne Siegel, Shepherd Express: The current national tour doesn’t feature anyone who can out-sing Barbra Streisand (who could?), but there is much to admire in every aspect of Katherina McCrimmon’s performance as Fanny. Not only does she sing with power and emotion, she can also mug to the audience, earning all the laughter so necessary for this character. McCrimmon can hold the stage effortlessly with one of Fanny’s (frequent) dramatic gestures.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Jared Fessler, BroadwayWorld: The vibrant set and impeccable costumes were a colorful and great for the time period. Both were perfectly complementing the setting. The lighting, particularly during the musical numbers, was striking and added an extra layer of magic to the performance. The stellar cast truly elevated the production. Katerina McCrimmon, in the role of Fanny Brice, delivered a fantastic performance. Negotiating the demanding role with numerous musical numbers and capturing Fanny's journey, Katerina portrayed the character exceptionally well. Her vocal qualities even reminded me of the legendary Judy Garland.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Rohan Preston, Star Tribune: Katerina McCrimmon is the real deal, folks. She brings humor, heart and genuine star power to the title character of Broadway's 'Funny Girl,' which opened Tuesday at Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre for a six-day run.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Mark Bretz, LaDue News: Katerina McCrimmon fills the spacious Fox venue with her spectacular voice as well as an inspired interpretation of the title role in this stellar touring production of “Funny Girl,” now playing at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Rob Levy, BroadwayWorld: Funny Girl features many wonderful performances, most noticeably Katerina McCrimmon as Fanny Brice. Energetic from start to finish, she is the heart and soul of the production. From the moment she hits the stage the audience is mesmerized by her powerful voice and exceptional comedic chops.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Chelsea Lake Roberts, City Pulse: The entire evening was a celebration of her voice — the power, control and range she brought to the songs, as well as her speaking voice, including the memorable and hilarious things her character said. Frankly, I was overcome by the power of McCrimmon’s cords. She stood on stage for more than two hours and delivered, again and again, one of the most incredible vocal performances I’ve ever heard. I can safely say I was awestruck, and I remain starstruck. And that was only night one.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Michael Rabice, BroadwayWorld: Another relative newcomer named Katerina McCrimmon is a triple threat revelation as this century’s newest funny girl. Equal parts singer, actress and comedian, McCrimmon is the type of performer you will not soon forget, and for all the right reasons.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Josh Pawlik, The Spectrum: Katerina McCrimmon, who plays her in the tour, showed she belonged in their company last week. Her vocals soared, and her comedic timing was impeccable. Although at times it was difficult to hear when she was speaking — likely due to a production or technical problem — the crowd didn’t seem to mind given how entertaining she was.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Roy Berko, BroadwayWorld: Don’t go to see the touring production expecting to see imitations of Streisand or Lea Michele (who starred in the 2022 revival of FUNNY GIRL). Katherina McCrimmon who is portraying Fanny, has her own version of the role. She acts, performs and sings the role with her own persona. No heavy accent, no attempt at broad exaggerated farce, and no imitation of the Brice vocal sounds. Maybe it’s McCrimmon’s non-New York background, but it is Brice, without Brice.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Christine Howey, Scene: In this touring version directed by Michael Mayer, the lead role is taken by Katerina McCrimmon, a young woman with powerfully prestigious pipes that do justice to songs such as 'People' and 'Don't Rain on My Parade.' While she doesn't look or sound like the original, she's talented enough to allow one to focus on the show itself.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Joey Morona, Cleveland.com: The opening line to “Funny Girl,” at Playhouse Square through March 10, is so iconic that it’s enough to instantly immerse us into the world of Fanny Brice. We’re backstage at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City in the early 1900s. The vaudeville legend (played by Katerina McCrimmon) is looking in the mirror, trying to summon the courage for what’s about to come.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? DC Felton, BroadwayWorld: One of the things that made the performance so enjoyable was the cast. The night I attended, we had four understudies who all did a fantastic job. Those understudies were Alex Hartman as Emma and Mrs. Nadler, Sean Thompson as Florenz Ziegfeld, Bryan Charles Moore as ensemble and Paul and Mr. Renaldi, and Zoey Lytle as ensemble and Vera.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Charles McNulty, LA Times: When McCrimmon’s Fanny is wooed by the elegant, smooth-talking, alluringly shady Nick Arnstein (Stephen Mark Lukas), she never loses Fanny Brice’s protective comic armor. No, the romance between this Fanny and Nick isn’t as sultry as it was when Michele’s Fanny and Ramin Karimloo’s Nick melted into each other at the August Wilson Theatre in New York. But what Lukas’ Nick sees in McCrimmon’s Fanny — a bright, lovable, hilariously original woman — redounds to his credit.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly: But her true power is in her once-in-a-generation voice. The vocal potency of McCrimmon’s belt whips the audience into a downright frenzy. When she opens her broad mouth on classics like “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade,' a tidal wave of sound emerges to drown the audience with its aural richness and force. But the real magic of her voice isn’t merely that it’s arresting or dynamic, it’s the ways in which she threads the emotion of the material through her astounding instrument to pack a wallop that will leave a mark for days.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Victoria Munck, Daily Bruin: While Fanny’s emotional nadir is tragic, it makes her triumphant bout of confidence in the show’s finale all the more rewarding. In her very last moment onstage, she divorces Nick and resolves to start fresh in the theater, reprising bold lines from the iconic “Don’t Rain on My Parade” with more authority than before. Ending with a commanding belt, McCrimmon’s show-stopping energy continues to buzz through the audience long after the curtain falls, breathing new life into a story older than herself.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Harker Jones, BroadwayWorld: Telling the true story of Ziegfeld Girl Fanny Brice (Hannah Shankman, trading off with Katerina McCrimmon), from her upbringing in 1910s Brooklyn to her rise as a Broadway star as a protégé of Florenz Ziegfeld (Walter Coppage), a prolific producer of stage shows, to her relationship with Nick Arnstein (Stephen Mark Lukas), a wealthy investor, FUNNY GIRL is more than just funny. Fanny is an ebullient, unsinkable character who perseveres through dramas, romances, and the ups and downs of show business through grit and determination. Told pretty forthrightly that she’s not classically beautiful enough to be a star, she makes inroads with chutzpah and sheer ability. It’s how stardom should go. Chasing beauty, in the end, cannot compete with raw talent.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Harker Jones, BroadwayWorld: Telling the true story of Ziegfeld Girl Fanny Brice (Hannah Shankman, trading off with Katerina McCrimmon), from her upbringing in 1910s Brooklyn to her rise as a Broadway star as a protégé of Florenz Ziegfeld (Walter Coppage), a prolific producer of stage shows, to her relationship with Nick Arnstein (Stephen Mark Lukas), a wealthy investor, FUNNY GIRL is more than just funny. Fanny is an ebullient, unsinkable character who perseveres through dramas, romances, and the ups and downs of show business through grit and determination. Told pretty forthrightly that she’s not classically beautiful enough to be a star, she makes inroads with chutzpah and sheer ability. It’s how stardom should go. Chasing beauty, in the end, cannot compete with raw talent.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Elaine Mura, Splash Magazines: Director Michael Mayer does an excellent job of encouraging his cast to become real people with real aspirations – rather than musical theater paper dolls. McCrimmon nails her portrayal of Brice as an enthusiastic, focused woman who probably became obsessed with everything which she treasured in her life. Her mother manages to be the perfect Jewish mother who cautions Fanny about reality but also gets and stays behind all her daughter’s decisions. Lukas conveys the frustrations of a man who remains in his wife’s shadow but longs to spread his wings and gain the respect he craves. Lovelorn Harris epitomizes the puppy-dog admiration which he feels but knows will never be reciprocated. In other words, FUNNY GIRL rises above its roots as a popular musical and succeeds in conveying the drama inherent in the tale.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Steve Murray, BroadwayWorld: Which leaves the focus solely on McCrimmon to carry the show and she delivers in spades. She’s magnetic and vibrant, both self-deprecating but sure of her talent. From her first number, 'I'm the Greatest Star', through “People” and the first act closer “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” McCrimmon is mesmerizing with her big belting vocals. In the duets ('I Want to Be Seen with You Tonight', 'Who Are You Now?) with leading man Nick Arnstein (Stephen Mark Lukas), he might as well not be there.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Jay Barmann, SFist: The role is also a pretty serious acting challenge as well, demanding that the star have the comedic tone and timing of old-school Jewish humor, enough that you're convinced why Fannie Brice became a star in the first place. And without channeling young Barbra directly, McKrimmon also excels at bringing Brice to life between the song and dance numbers.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Michael Quintos, BroadwayWorld: McCrimmon is indeed a great-enough reason to come see this newly revised show, and judging from her rapturous reception during the show's OC opening night, her casting was an important "get" for a musical that hinges on its central character to be compelling and intriguing enough to carry much of the load of this star-driven show. Her presence here gives everything (and everyone) a purpose to be in her character's orbit, and that's a lot to place on one actor's make-or-break performance.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Christopher Smith, Orange County Register: Katerina McCrimmon displays vocal and comedic chops as Fanny Brice, a role made classic by Barbra Streisand.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant: “Funny Girl” wants to be an intimate relationship drama, not a historical vaudeville pageant. This revival, despite some big rewrites by Harvey Fierstein, is still stuck around the sort of romantic cliches and hoary old body-image issues that most Broadway musicals strenuously avoid these days. Brice feels she is too unattractive to be loved by someone as dashing as Arnstein and goes through a lot of emotional abuse because of it. Scene after scene, not to mention the show’s title, continually makes the strained and distasteful point that it’s a good thing Brice is funny because she’s certainly not pretty. There are several songs that underscore this, plus the gender-typing male power tune “You Are Woman, I Am Man.” It gets really hard to take after a while.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Nancy Sasso Janis, Patch: Katerina McCrimmon gives a stellar performance as Fanny Brice. She has a powerhouse singing voice and nails the vulnerability and the confidence of the beloved comedian, who began as a Jewish girl growing up on Henry Street.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? David Friscic, BroadwayWorld: With the aid of the thrilling and glorious music by Jule Styne and character-driven lyrics by Bob Merrill, this story of striving for stardom (which reminds me a bit of A Star is Born---another Streisand vehicle –amongst several other versions) delivers the goods. This production directed by Michael Mayer is presented with a revised book by Harvey Fierstein (from the original book by Isobel Lennart) that emphasizes certain aspects that were not emphasized in the original version. As a result, the drama of the second act plays much more effectively than in the original. The soap opera feeling is gone as Brice’s fame overtakes the gambling tragedies of her husband Nick Arnstein (Stephen Mark Lukas) and it plays like heartfelt and consequential personal drama.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Nancy Blum, MD Theatre Guide: On stage and singing for almost the entire duration of the show, McCrimmon is phenomenal in the challenging role of Fanny Brice. Blending great vocal range with the occasional growl, her performance of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is a theatrical moment not to be missed. McCrimmon is a rising star who held the audience in rapt attention not only through song, but in her intimate scenes with Nick. Collective gasps could be heard at several lines of dialogue when Nick or Fanny revealed a hidden truth. “Funny Girl” is so much more than funny—it is heartfelt.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying? Alexandra Bowman, DC Theater Arts: Of the other Fanny Brices I’ve seen and heard, McCrimmon’s performance best encapsulates exactly what Funny Girl’s Fanny Brice should be — a whip-smart, deeply kind person devoid of insecurity who loves to love, even to her own detriment. Her Fanny captures the audience’s attention, earning their laughter and their respect with her hilarity and spirit.

Review Roundup: FUNNY GIRL Launches National Tour; What Are the Critics Saying?
Average Rating: 84.2%


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