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Review: With Flair and A Flourish Kimberly Faye Greenberg Tells The Tale of FABULOUS FANNY BRICE at The Green Room 42

Fanny Brice is alive and well and living wherever Kimberly Faye Greenberg takes her.

Review: With Flair and A Flourish Kimberly Faye Greenberg Tells The Tale of FABULOUS FANNY BRICE at The Green Room 42

Doing a biography play of a famous person is a very tricky venture. It can go very right or very wrong, depending on a multitude of factors. First of all, not every famous person has a life that is actually interesting enough to be turned into a biography play; just being famous is no guarantee of being interesting, that is why so many biography pieces have to be informed by the imaginations of the writers. The Bruce Lee biopic DRAGON is almost more fiction than it is fact, and when one considers the musical CHAPLIN alongside the movie of the same name, there is so much conflicting information that an audience member can't help but be confused by what is or is not the truth. The fact is that the truth shouldn't get in the way of telling a good story, but storytelling shouldn't ever eradicate all traces of honesty from a lifeline. There are certain inherent truths and theatrical imaginings in the play and movie Funny Girl (and the cinematic sequel Funny Lady) that mix up that which was the real-life story of Fanny Brice. Were it not for the Funny Girl legend, it is doubtful that the world at large would even know who Fanny Brice is, today. That fact, in and of itself, is reason enough for the existence of the one-woman musical cabaret play FABULOUS Fanny Brice.

Review: With Flair and A Flourish Kimberly Faye Greenberg Tells The Tale of FABULOUS FANNY BRICE at The Green Room 42 Created by singing actress Kimberly Faye Greenberg, Fabulous Fanny Brice tells the truth about the funny girl from the Vaudeville era, using Brice's music in an ongoing discussion with the audience. The play has been around for a while, which is a stroke of luck (also of genius) for Ms. Greenberg, who has cracked the solo show code. Every single actor should have a solo show (or two) in their repertoire because there simply isn't enough work for the actors of the world, and a good solo show can always be there to pay the bills. Every actress over forty should have a Shirley Valentine or a Belle of Amherst, and every actor should have an I Am My Own Wife or a Mark Twain Tonight because any show with one actor, some costume pieces, and a light set can fit easily a black box theater, a college stage, a cabaret room, a library auditorium or a women's club (don't knock the women's clubs, they are a great source of revenue for performing artists). Kimberly Faye Greenberg has been successfully playing Fanny Brice around the country, and with some fine notices, too (so she doesn't need this review) but since this writer has never seen her act and actually knows who Fanny Brice was, her appearance at The Green Room 42 this week had to be caught.

Review: With Flair and A Flourish Kimberly Faye Greenberg Tells The Tale of FABULOUS FANNY BRICE at The Green Room 42 Ms. Greenberg has done a wonderful job, both with her script and with her portrayal, managing to keep the performance light, bright, and enjoyable. The writing is straightforward and personable, providing audiences honest-to-goodness facts about Brice's life that don't come out in either of the Streisand movies, facts and stories that Greenberg presents with skilled acting talents and a lovely singing voice. Attempting to sound like, neither, Fanny nor Barbra, Ms. Greenberg sings many of Fanny's hits (coincidentally Barbra's as well), but the sound that she does achieve to near perfection is that of the Vaudeville age. What was in style vocally during Fanny Brice's life is not what has been in style for a few decades. Kimberly Faye recreates the Vaudeville vibe while staying within her own vocal sound (an impressive feat) and always sings the notes that one will find on the lead sheet, something Ms. Streisand has never been very interested in doing. Although Barbra Joan's movie rendition of "My Man" has become so iconic that it is the blueprint to which many singers turn when performing the classic, Kimberly Faye errs on the side of singing what Fanny Brice sang, what Maurice Yvain wrote - the same is completely true of KFG's versions of "Second Hand Rose" and "I'd Rather Be Blue..." and it is a testament to her commitment to Brice that makes these numbers a hit with the audience. Indeed, it is the Greenberg/Brice relationship that drives the show, but it is not the only relationship that is important in the play.

Review: With Flair and A Flourish Kimberly Faye Greenberg Tells The Tale of FABULOUS FANNY BRICE at The Green Room 42 Every theatrical story rests on the relationships. In a play, there must be a relationship in which the audience can make an investment. In the case of a one-person play about a famous artist, the only relationship that can exist is between the actor and the audience - perhaps that is why the authors of the plays Souvenir, Barrymore, The End of the Rainbow, and Marlene made sure that the lead character had at least one, possibly two, other characters off of which to play. On Thursday night, Ms. Greenberg's audience was either too laid-back or too reluctant to engage with her as she spoke directly to them, sometimes asking questions that required some prompting, in order to get answers. Some twenty-ish minutes into her act, Greenberg's Fanny left the stage and came into the audience, causing a significant shift in the energy of the room, a shift that kind of receded to quiet, once she returned to the spotlight. One hopes that this was an exception and not the norm, because if it is Ms. Greenberg might think of finding a way to let the audience know, from the onset, that this is a dialogue - one might offer that her monologue does feel, at times, like a presentation, and that something a little more natural might read as a conversation to the audience, thus encouraging them to participate in Fanny's story. Kimberly Faye does make a wonderful and effective transition near the end of her play (to say from what to what would be an unfortunate spoiler for future audiences) that is the crux upon which the effectiveness of Fabulous Fanny Brice hinges: it makes all of Greenberg's explorations into Brice important because it shows why Fanny is important to her, and that's everything.

Review: With Flair and A Flourish Kimberly Faye Greenberg Tells The Tale of FABULOUS FANNY BRICE at The Green Room 42 It's a good play that Kimberly Faye Greenberg has created, and the singing actress does a fine job bringing that play and the legacy of Fanny Brice to the stage. In doing so, she will continue to send audiences home to fall into a YouTube watch hole or an Alexa listening crawl, there to discover more about Fanny Brice than they would have known, had they not taken a chance on Greenberg's show. That makes Fabulous Fanny Brice more than entertaining (which it is) - it makes it valuable.

Fabulous Fanny Brice is Musical Directed by Seth Bisen-Hersh.

Find great shows to see at the Green Room 42 website HERE

HERE is the Kimberly Faye Greenberg website and THIS is the specific page for the Fabulous Fanny Brice show.

Review: With Flair and A Flourish Kimberly Faye Greenberg Tells The Tale of FABULOUS FANNY BRICE at The Green Room 42


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Cra... (read more about this author)


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