Original London Cast – 2016 / Music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill
Starring: Sheridan Smith, Darius Campbell, Marilyn Cuts, Joel Montague, Gay Soper, Valda Aviks, Philip Bertioli
Rate: 8 (from 1 to 10) /
Photos by Marc Brenner
Review: On the night I saw this show, Sheridan Smith was out and the role of Fanny Brice was brilliantly played by Natasha J. Barnes and I sure miss her in this album. Barnes has a strong voice that, although we can’t compare her with Barbra Streisand (no one compares with her), carried the songs with feeling, power, humor and emotion. As for Smith, she has a good singing voice, but her power range isn’t very high and she sounds better in the comic numbers.
As for the recording, this is one of the best scores ever written for a musical. With songs like “People”, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and, a personal favorite of mine, “The Music That Makes Me Dance”, this is Jule Styne at his best! I confess I love all the songs, but you know me, I’m passionate about this kind of music. Besides the songs I already mentioned, I can’t resist tunes like “I’m the Greatest Star”, “His Love Makes Me Beautiful”, “Funny Girl” (written for the movie version), “I Want to Be Seen with You Tonight”, “Who Are You Now?” and all the rest.
There are two new songs that I never heard before and I don’t even know if they were part of the original Broadway production. One is “Temporary Arrangement” sung by Darius Campbell as Nick Arnstein, that fits perfectly into the score and the same can be said about the too short “What Do Happy People Do?”.
Back to the cast, Darius Campbell has a sweet manly voice that makes his Nick perfect. In supporting roles, Marilyn Cuts as Fanny’s mother and Joel Montague as Eddie give it all with the funny “Who Taught Her Everything She Knows?”.
Of course this new recording doesn’t have the power of the original Broadway cast or the movie soundtrack, but it’s impossible to duplicate Streisand. This is also a small scale production and the orchestrations by Chris Walker aren’t as strong as the original ones by Ralph Burns, but they have a true feeling of the period and I enjoyed longer versions of some of the songs, like “Henry Street”.
This won’t replace the original with Streisand, but it’s more than enjoyable and it has the kind of “music that makes me dance” and dream!
To read my review on the London revival click here.