“Certainly she can sing, but it worked better on “Glee,” no? The emotional context of the song wasn’t there. It seemed a bit “American Idol”-ish to me. Vocally overwhelming, but not much real human feeling underneath. It will be curious to see what happens with the casting of the revival. I don’t envy whoever gets the role. There’s a reason it’s never been revived, namely Babs.” - Charles Isherwood
Okay, it’s cliche time, but hear me out first. I LOVE Streisand. I admire her so much as an artist but unlike other gaywads, my love for her was aquired much like my love for Callas. Until I studied music, I didn’t realize what a consumate artist and first-rate musician she truly is.
Moreover: she’s unique. Plain and simple. There’s no one else like her, and her artistry is her own. She really is a trailblazer. She managed to defy typecasting and proved herself as a comedic actress and a leading lady through sheer force of will.
Before I continue, I should mention that my feelings towards Ms. Streisand are unrelated to her personal life or who she is as a person because I don’t know her and it’s irrelivent. My adoration is based soley on her artistry. She may be a nutbag, but she’s a fucking talented nutbag.
Which brings me to the impending revival of Funny Girl. All of Broadway has been abuzz of ever since it was announced (this being the first revival since the original production). We still have no confirmation on who Fanny Brice will be, but Lea Michelle (of Glee) seems to be the leading contender. My guess is, the part will be Ms. Michelle’s. She’s the star of the hottest show on TV, and her performances of ‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’ at the Tony Awards and on Glee, were no coincidence. Maybe I’m wrong, but for arguments sake, let’s just pretend Ms. Michelle has the part because this could apply to any actress given the way Broadway shows are cast these days.
Funny Girl is not a good musical. It’s got an enjoyable first act and a fabulous score, but it’s really a lugubrious melodrama. The driving force - one might say the motor that makes the engine run - is Streisand. Her star turn in the show, was the ultimate synthesis of star and story. Streisand’s life was very much like that of her character, Fanny Brice. Brice was a woman of immense talent, who achieved unbelievable success despite her looks and Jewish persona. She was the kind of performer who could have you laughing hysterically at one moment, and break your heart the next. In other words: Streisand was Brice.
Moreover, Streisand is an idiosyncratic performer who commands a stage - a quality, I’m sad to say, Lea Michelle greatly lacks. She’s a fine singer and an attractive girl, but rather generic. Her duet with Kristin Chenoweth on Glee was a perfect demonstration of Ms. Michelle’s shortcomings as a performer. Both women had great voices but there was a certain daffy intensity to Chenoweth’s singing - a certain “it factor” - that set the screen ablaze. Michelle came of as a pretty girl with a pretty voice which, basically, is all she is.
If Funny Girl is going to be successfully mounted, they need a true star. Someone with more than just a pretty face and voice.