The Golden Apple’s Funny Girl gives actress Catherine Randazzo a star turn.
By Kay Kipling
When it comes to musical bios, Funny Girl, both on Broadway and on the silver screen, may have been a bigger hit than it deserved to be. That’s not just because this retelling of entertainer Fanny Brice’s life often played fast and loose with the facts (such show biz stories often do) but because the structure of Isobel Lennart’s book doesn’t really give any of the characters besides Fanny much development or all that much to do; they all just revolve in her orbit.
Needless to say, that didn’t seem such a problem when Barbra Streisand played Fanny, and, to her credit, it’s not a fatal flaw when Catherine Randazzo is playing her, as she does in the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre’s current production. Randazzo has lots of verve, and both a singing and acting style that are good for Fanny without being too similar to Streisand’s. Her voice may not dominate a song like I’m the Greatest Star as much as a Streisand performance, but she still has impact, and we root for her.
Catherine Randazzo as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.
It’s also fun to watch Fanny’s poker-playing mom and her buddies back in Brooklyn, especially Kyle Ennis Turoff, playing older as Mrs. Strakosh. Randazzo and Chris Swan (as her gambler husband, Nick Arnstein) have a nice rapport together, although Swan’s toupee is a distraction at first. And when it comes to 1920s-style production numbers, Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat is a lively and well-executed one.
There are times when we miss having a bigger orchestra to back the performers, and this Funny Girl doesn’t offer any especially thrilling moments. But it’s pleasant enough, thanks in large part to Randazzo.
Funny Girl continues at the Golden Apple through May 11; for tickets call 366-5454 or go to thegoldenapple.com.