Katerina McCrimmon – that’s a name Providence audiences won’t soon forget. Starring in the touring production of “Funny Girl,”which concludes its run today at the Providence Performing Arts Center, McCrimmon shows such power and control as a vocalist, such depth and consistency as a character actor and such a mesmerizing stage presence that hundreds sat enthralled with her performance from beginning to end.
Starring in the touring production of “Funny Girl,”which concludes its run today at the Providence Performing Arts Center, McCrimmon shows such power and control as a vocalist, such depth and consistency as a character actor and such a mesmerizing stage presence that hundreds sat enthralled with her performance from beginning to end.
A biographical look at vaudeville sensation Fanny Brice, a role introduced 60 years ago by Barbra Streisand, “Funny Girl” is a 2½-hour whirlwind of jazzy numbers and an intimate look at the dreams and struggles of a poor woman who believed herself to be a star.
With a revised book by Harvey Fierstein, the rebooted “Funny Girl” is a hit unto itself. The pace is quick and the ambience flashy and festooned with flowers, feathers and sequins, transporting the audience back to the 1920s. Add a powerhouse like McCrimmon and the entertainment factor explodes. Astonishingly, this is the petite actress’s first lead, but she shows such skill that it certainly won’t be her last.
From the slower sounds of “Who Are You Now?” launching the show to the soaring notes of such popular numbers as “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “People,” McCrimmon’s voice is clear and rich, transitioning the ranges easily and quickly. With her consistent grasp on a Jewish Brooklyn accent, there are moments when her voice harks back to Streisand’s, and her ascent to the last note in “I’m the Greatest Star” proves breathtaking.
The show is steeped in talent.
Singer Melissa Manchester, marking her 50th year in show business, brings aplomb and sass as Fanny’s mother. The audience awaits her vocals and is rewarded with a powerful duet in “Who Taught Her Everything She Knows?” in Act II.
Manchester shares the number with Izaiah Montaque Harris as Eddie, Fanny’s friend who spots her talent and helps her get into a smaller show before following her to the Ziegfeld Follies. Harris is an explosion of talent, wowing the audience with tap-dancing wizardry and personality. More outstanding tapping in the second act by Lamont Brown and Ryan Lambert continues the show’s vaudevillian feel.
And then there’s Stephen Mark Lukas as Fanny’s love, Nick Arnstein. A swindler and con artist, Nick sweeps Fanny off her feet but, once married, feels emasculated as her success overshadows his own. Lukas is a debonair presence in the show, providing sweet vocals in “You Are Woman, I Am Man” and “I Want to Be Seen with You.” While his voice is clearly overpowered in the ensemble number “Temporary Arrangement,” his performance overall is endearing and solid.
“Funny Girl” is a show for the ages, an entertainment experience like no other. Thanks to the skills of McCrimmon, this production is quite simply dazzling.