It was easy to believe that Ashleigh Harvey may actually be Fanny Brice. Easy to believe that she was determined to be famous, that she knew that she was talented and was waiting for her big break. Her performance was that convincing and her talent was that obvious.
The award-winning play, a semi-biographical musical based on the life and career of Broadway star, film actress and comedienne Fanny Brice, was recreated using a South African cast, directed by Matthew Wild.
The story follows Fanny Brice, originally played by Barbara Streisand, both on stage and in film, who is enormously talented and comedic. She spends years being overlooked for women who are less talented and more beautiful. She cleverly decides to showcase her talents and improvises on stage introducing humour where there was none and the audience welcomed it. Her career escalated when she met Nick Arnstein.
The costumes were brilliant, sparkling with
colours and character, complimenting the
set. The set was cleverly designed, seamlessly switching from one scene to the next, with
all eyes on Fanny, with the exception of scenes including Mrs Brice (Kate Normington), Mrs Strakosh (Diane Wilson) and Mrs Meeker (Michele Maxwell). These three women were delightfully hilarious with witty banter and providing a familiar feeling to anyone who can relate to having overly involved aunties.
As amazing as each and every performer was, I was personally blown away by Ashleigh Harvey. She took on Barbara Streisand and she managed it, belting out well-known songs such as Don’t Rain on My Parade and I’m the Greatest Star and making it her own. This production will definitely have you on the edge of your seat as you watch her reach note after note.
At the end of the show, you feel overwhelmed with emotion as you realise that it was a heartbreaking story… yet, because of Fanny’s sense of humour, you feel as though you had just seen a stand-up comedy show.
As someone who has seen the Funny Girl film more than once, I was absolutely pleased with this production. The Fugard Theatre was the perfect theatre, due to its size, you have a good view from almost anywhere in the building.
I would highly recommend this show, as it is a treat to your ears, eyes and feeling. Get your tickets here.