Revisting a great musical can always be an eye-opener, there’s always something you missed the first time and of course with live theatre, performances develop over time and sometimes you get to see an understudy perform a role.
With the indisposition of Sheridan Smith at the moment, her understudy Natasha J Barnes, is playing the role of Fanny Brice for an extended period. Whilst most understudies get an occasional performance, Barnes has an unusual opportunity to play the role on a normal weekly performance schedule, and if audience reaction is anything to go by, Natasha J Barnes is a name we will be seeing more of.
Barnes’ Fanny Brice is a musical comedy delicacy, a sumptuous multi-layered confection that should be savoured. On the surface level she tackles Fanny’s big production numbers like Don’t Rain On My Parade and People with ease, but the drama of the piece is also well served. Brice’s marriage to Nick Ornstein, and her controlling nature gives this musical depth, especially in the second act as the relationship comes apart. It’s great to see that Barnes is up to the dramatic challenge and her scenes with Darius Campbell’s Arnstein and Marilyn Cutts’ Mrs Brice are great to watch.
Campbell and Barnes make for a wonderful on stage romantic duo. Their number You Are Woman is a delight and their chemistry on stage is electric.
Barnes has a devilish twinkle in her eyes and you got a real hint of her comic potential when she had a to deal with a costume malfunction during the Rat Tat Tat Tat production number in Act Two.
Funny Girl remains one of the must see shows in London at the moment. With a few months now under their belts, the show has settled in to a nice rhythm, full of energy and wonderful moments.
Try to get a ticket to see Natasha J Barnes whilst she is playing Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. There is little doubt that a new West End leading lady is currently on stage at the Savoy Theatre and you’d be nuts to miss her!