There are times in the theater when it becomes difficult to tell if you are more impressed with the character or the performer.
I had this problem when seeing “Funny Girl,” which is now showing at the Fox Theatre through Feb. 4.
“Funny Girl” chronicles the rise of Fanny Brice, an early-20th-century star of the famous Ziegfeld Follies.
Brice was a brilliant comedic performer with an impressive singing voice to match. Most people associate this role with Barbara Streisand, who originated the role on Broadway and won an Oscar for the film version of the show. These are almost impossible shoes to fill.
This brings us to Katerina McCrimmon, who stars as Fanny in the traveling production I saw at the Fox. McCrimmon took to the part with such pluck, charm and soaring voice that she left many in the crowd – including myself – wowed.
This is where I ran into my initial conundrum as it became difficult to tell where Fanny Brice stopped and McCrimmon began.
This is clearly a great part as Fanny is a beloved character who gets to deliver iconic songs like “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” But McCrimmon delivered them with such powerful, towering vocals that had me feeling like I was witnessing one of, if not the best, performances I had ever seen on the Fox stage.
Of course, she didn’t do it alone, as the show’s production values were excellent and the supporting cast was more than solid. Standouts included Barbara Tirrell who stole scenes and laughs as Fanny’s mother Mrs. Brice, Izaiah Montaque Harris whose fancy footwork was a joy to watch as showman Eddie Ryan and Stephen Mark Lukas who brought charm and heft to the role of Fanny’s ne’er-do-well husband Nick Arnstein.
So while I’m still unsure if I loved Fanny or McCrimmon more, I have no doubts that it is nearly impossible not to love this production of “Funny Girl.” Catch it if you can.
“Funny Girl” is now showing at the Fox Theatre through Feb. 4. For tickets call 314-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.