Natasha Barnes was enthralling as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl last night…

Natasha Barne’s role as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl is one of the best theatrical performances I have EVER seen. Last night at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre she was a compelling force majeure that kept the audience enthralled from beginning to finale.

The main character’s role of Fanny Brice – a Ziegfeld stage performer – requires a high level of vivacity and zeal while injecting some Yiddish Vaudeville-style humour and still be able to effortlessly slip into a tenderness and vulnerability.

Natasha provided all of these qualities and so much more. For the older theatre-goers who remember the incredible Barbara Streisand or more recent short-lived Sheridan Smith performance there’s a lot of verve and a dollop of individuality to make this role burst onto the stage.

What an accomplishment from a star who last year was a mere understudy for the role of Fanny and fortuitously stepped into the limelight as lead role in London’s West End when a poorly Sheridan Smith had to take some time out.

Funny Girl 2 Natasha J Barnes (Fanny Brice) Photo Credit Manuel Harlan. 1

Funny Girl is a compelling, true (with some embellishment, obvs) story of Fanny Brice, daughter of Jewish Hungarian immigrants who ran a saloon bar in Brooklyn at a time in the late 19th and early Twentieth Century when playhouse’s were popping up everywhere in the New York Yiddish theatre district entertaining audiences with Vaudeville and Shakespeare.

Following discrimination and persecution of Jews throughout Europe the modern day New York Jewish sense of humour derives from a capacity for Jews to laugh and make light and a living from the uglier side of humanity. (what you gotta do!)

Fanny Brice wanted a piece of that pie and the comical actress with no airs and graces but a whole lot of ‘can’t hold me back’, ‘born to perform’ attitude means she was destined to go somewhere.

The ultimate pinnacle of performing in those days was in a Ziegfeld Broadway show and eventually Fanny rises to the top but along the way she meets the suave, debonair and extremely wealthy Nick Arnstein.

Just as Natasha – who recently played theatrical roles in Cinderella, American Idiot and Snow White – is incredible in her role as Fanny, pop star Darius Campbell is believable in the self-assured role as Nick so all credit to Darius for encapsulating the iconic role as Fanny’s love interest.

FUNNY GIRL by Styne,           , Music - Jule Styne, Lyrics - Bob Merril, Director - Michael Mayer, Choreographer - Lynne Page, Set Michael Pavelka, Costumes - Matthew Wright, Lighting - Mark Henderson, Savoy Theatre, London, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/

An aside: Some of you may have seen Bearsden-born Darius swinging his kilt at the King’s in Snow White singing Gold Digga’ – a very memorable performance which now and again still has me blushing and simultaneously grinning like a Cheshire cat!

Anyhoo, Funny Girl really has something for everyone and thanks to an amazing orchestra playing some big band songs and serenades, the roller-coaster ups and downs of Fanny’s acting and love life were heightened.

Look out for Natasha singing ‘People’and the powerful independent woman song ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’.

Joshua Lay’s performance as Eddie Ryan, the guy who gave Fanny her big break and spends his life waiting in the wings for a show of affection from Fanny, is excellent. Mrs Brice, Fanny’s mum, is played by Rachel Izen and the Eddie-Mrs Brice duet of ‘Who Taught Her Everything She Knows’ is lively and highly entertaining.

There are so many notable roles in the show including the three Jewish poker-playing grannies who are constantly trying to outdo each other with witty retorts and put downs.

Director Michael Mayer – who has a whole host of West End and Broadway credits – has created an impressive masterpiece. 5/5
Review by Susie Daniels

Go see Funny Girl at Glasgow King’s Theatre running until Saturday 3 June.