BWW Review: Another Fantastic Musical Theater Heritage Production - FUNNY GIRL at Crown Center
Kansas City has one of the best performing arts communities in the country, but don't take my word for it, prove it to yourself by seeing FUNNY GIRL at Musical Theater Heritage in Crown Center. Every time I think that I have seen the best that Kansas City has to offer I am proven wrong by another grand production from a local theatrical production company.
Musical Theater Heritage definitely hits the top of the charts with the opening night of FUNNY GIRL on Saturday, April 13. FUNNY GIRL, with a book by Isobel Lennart, is from an original story by Lennart. Bob Merrill wrote the lyrics and Jule Styne wrote the music for this musical look at the life of Broadway performer and comedian Fanny Brice. Seth Golay has done a wonderful job of directing the Musical Theater Heritage cast. Choreography by David Ollington is superb and delightful to watch.
The musical opened on Broadway in 1964 at The Winter Green Theatre, running for 1,348 performances before closing in 1967 at The Broadway Theatre. In 1964 FUNNY GIRL was nominated for eight TonyAwards including Best Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical, and Best Choreography. George Harter the founder of Musical Theater Heritage pointed out FUNNY GIRL was beaten by HELLO DOLLY which won 10 Tony Awards that year.
Stefanie Wilkerson is brilliant as Fanny Brice, giving a powerful performance that it seemed she was born to play. I can't imagine any other actor in Kansas City that could have given a better performance. I could easily listen to her beautiful voice every night and sit in admiration of her exquisite talent. After the show, Wilkerson told me that during rehearsals it became apparent to her how much she had in common with Fanny Brice. She has been performing on Kansas City stages since 2012 including CABARET and JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR for Musical Theater Heritage.
Cody Proctor takes on the role of Nick Arnstein, the gambler and entrepreneur who marries Fanny Brice. Proctor, who recently moved back to Kansas City from Chicago, is a perfect match with Wilkerson. The audience can feel the dynamic charisma between the two. Proctor and Wilkerson both told me that they discovered they had both attended the same school, though a few years apart. He performed for three years in the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and can be seen later this year at the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival in Kansas City.
Joey Boos and Lyndsey Green gave remarkable performances and are the only other two actors playing single roles in the production. Chelcie Abercrombie, Chelsea Anglemyer, Martin Buchanan, Kimberly Horner, Margo Mikkelson, T. Eric Morris, and Weston Thomas were outstanding while performing in multiple roles.
FUNNY GIRL continues at Musical Theater Heritage through April 28. To purchase tickets online go to www.musicaltheaterheritage.com.
Photo Credit Brian Paulette