Watching musicals was a huge part of my childhood thanks to my lovely Nan who introduced me to the world of Rodgers and Hammerstein at a very young age. I’d spend all weekend watching the same VHS tapes over and over again until the quality was unwatchable, and I knew every word to every song. Now I have my own daughters, it’s my chance to pass this on to them and I love nothing more than watching Grease with them both and seeing how much they are starting to enjoy musicals.
So, when my eldest daughter Kiki found out that Flora of Tootsie Roller fame would be joining the Funny Girl UK tour earlier this year, we have been on countdown to her first ‘grown up’ trip to the theatre and it really did not disappoint. From the opening number to the standing ovation, which the entire cast wholeheartedly deserved, she was hooked.
Natasha J Barnes is a comic genius in the lead role of Fanny Brice, originally played by Barbra Streisand in the 1968 film. You can tell that it’s a role she genuinely enjoys playing and there were two memorable moments where she just could not stop laughing, which just made it all the more hilarious for the audience! But under the slap stick comedy and self-deprecation, we also see the side of Fanny that quite desperately wants to hold on to her man Nicky.
The role of ‘Slick’ Nicky Arnstein is played by Darius Campbell of former TV talent show fame, but all this is forgotten when he dons the white ruffle shirt and he soon has Fanny swooning over his exotic and mysterious ways. After a week spent in Baltimore, she promptly quits the Zeigfeld Follies and follows him to Monte Carlo where they marry, buy a huge house in Long Island and soon welcome a baby into their family.
Their happiness is short lived when an investment goes wrong which resorts in Nicky, desperate to no longer be seen as a kept man, getting embroiled in a shady scheme and is sent to prison for 18 months. Fanny dutifully waits for him only to have her heart broken yet again but, determined as ever, she picks herself up and continues to be the shining star we’ve seen her become throughout the show.
Everything about this revival is just perfect. From the set design to the costumes, I especially want a pair of the beach pyjamas worn by the ensemble and Kiki was eyeing up the green ballet shoes too! We topped our evening off meeting Flora and fellow cast member Gillian at the Stage Door afterwards for a quick catch up and a cheeky photograph. Sorry Tootsies, but Flo is now the firm favourite in our house and will be the subject of ‘Show and Tell’ at school on Friday!
There are still some tickets left for the Stoke performance of this amazing show but the run continues around the country up until the end of August so please, please go and grab yourself a ticket NOW! You won’t be disappointed!
Funny Girl will be at The Regent Theatre until Saturday 1st April. Tickets are available from The Regent Theatre Box Office or by visiting www.atgtickets.com/Stoke