Leslie Kritzer in Funny Girl
(Photo: Jerry Dalia)




A happy byproduct of the bumper crop of spring musical openings is a wealth of breakout performances—i.e., excellent work by actors who were previously unsung or who, whatever their past credits, have only now been given the chance to shine at full wattage.

Over at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey, Leslie Kritzer is more phenomenal than anyone had a right to hope she would be as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. Of course, the role bears the indelible stamp of Barbra Streisand, who created it three-and-a-half decades ago in her second and last Broadway musical appearance (!!) and then preserved her interpretation with her big-screen debut in the 1968 film version. But Kritzer, a tiny, very young woman with a big, beautiful voice and far more than “36 expressions,” is so good (and so different from Streisand) that she makes the role her own. Happily, she’s partnered by the perfectly cast Robert Cuccioli as “Nicky Arnstein, Nicky Arnstein,” and her breakout performance is properly showcased within the setting of a typically lavish Paper Mill production.

Though the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Follies opened to largely negative reviews, patrons are speaking very well of Erin Dilly, Lauren Ward, Richard Roland, and Joey Sorge, who play the younger counterparts of the show’s starry leads. Ward got a lof of attention in the title role of Violet, but she and Roland have previously had only a nodding acquaintance with Broadway, while Dilly and Sorge are hereby making their Main Stem debuts. “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow”/“Love Will See Us Through,” their second-act contrapuntal quartet, goes over like gangbusters. Disappointing though it may be, this Follies is a high-profile project, and the excellence of its two young couples has definitely not gone unnoticed.

1999 TheaterMania Inc

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