Hello Gorgeous

By Maya ChenApril 22, 2024

Hello Gorgeous
FUNNY GIRL, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, April 9, 2024.

The worst day of my life may be the day I turn 26, not only because I’ll be ineligible for my parents’ health insurance, but also because I’ll lose access to the Center Theatre Group’s 25 and Under program, which provides free and discounted tickets in an effort to expose young people to live theater, and of which I have been a loving beneficiary for the last two years. On April 9, I took the opportunity to see the national tour of Funny Girl, a production I’ve been eagerly anticipating since the revival opened on Broadway in 2022. A newly sprained ankle wasn’t going to stop me; I strapped on that brace and made my way to the Ahmanson Theatre, ibuprofen in hand.

I’ve been to productions at the Ahmanson that definitely had a motivated crowd—I saw an entire Into the Woods–costumed friend group there last summer—but I had never felt such a palpable frenzy. There were more men, largely in their thirties and forties, in the Funny Girl audience than I had ever seen at a theater production. The Gen X and millennial gay friend groups were out and about. After the lights dimmed but before the overture, Center Theatre CEO Meghan Pressman came out and mentioned an upcoming one-night-only production starring Bernadette Peters and Lea Salonga. The loudest gasp in the history of California rippled through the audience, and it only confirmed what I already knew: I was in the presence of some die-hard musical lovers.

I’d listened to a select number of songs from Funny Girl for much of my life (Glee Live! 2011 was my first concert) but had never actually seen the musical. The real thing was as potent as my fellow theatergoers had clearly anticipated. There was a solid minute-long ovation after “I’m the Greatest Star”; during the opening notes to “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” the woman sitting next to me began shaking and clapping to herself. And honestly, it was deserved.

Katerina McCrimmon was excellent as Fanny Brice: hammy and blunt, with a rich, elastic voice that could seriously belt. The aforementioned classics were wonderful, yes, but she thoroughly impressed me with deeper cuts—it was during “Cornet Man” that I realized just how elastic McCrimmon is as both a singer and performer. To pull off a character like Fanny, you need the voice and the comedic chops, and McCrimmon surely had both. Stephen Mark Lukas was a serviceable Nick Arnstein, although after learning he had understudied Ramin Karimloo in the same role on Broadway, I couldn’t help but wish I was just watching Ramin Karimloo. That being said, Arnstein actually blew me away with a single bit of choreography during “You Are Woman, I Am Man,” in which he somehow executed a perfect hop from floor to couch while lounging. It was like someone had copy-pasted him. The set was simple but effective, the costumes occasionally flashy and beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the staging of “The Music That Makes Me Dance,” in which Fanny is placed in the center of an empty stage except for a large full moon behind her and confetti remnants scattered across the floor. Bathed in a cool purple light, it seems like Fanny is in space, totally alone in the universe.

The show ended with a standing ovation, obviously, and the audience spilled out into Jerry Moss Plaza. My friend and I went to get a photo in front of the neon Funny Girl sign out front, but the line was just too long. We should’ve seen it coming.


Photo by contributor.

LARB Short Take live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

LARB Contributor

Maya Chen (she/her) is the social media director/list-maker for Los Angeles Review of Books.


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