Technical glitches and hot temperatures didn’t stop Victoria Healy from being a “Funny Girl”
On Saturday, September 23, I was slated to attend the New Candlelight Theatre‘s production of Funny Girl. At the last minute, my companion’s husband asked if he could join us, so I called the box office to ask if we could add one to my party. Much to my chagrin, I was informed they were sold out for that performance, but they offered to see if they could make arrangements for us. Just a short ten minutes later, someone from the box office called back and said they worked it out that all three of us could attend and we drove on down to Ardentown, DE, just outside of Wilmington for dinner and a show.
We made our way to a secluded barn-like structure set back in a wooded artist type community. As we were seated at one of the front tables, a swarm of servers flitted around the tables. They all appeared to be in full stage make-up. We soon found out the service staff was also a part of the production. After placing our drink orders, we took a look at the ridiculously long line for the buffet and decided to bide our time and wait for it to disapate a bit. The audience was still pouring in and the temperature kept rising. After nearly a half hour of waiting, we decided to make an attempt at the buffet. It was set up in a cramped corner near the front of the stage. There was a moderate selection of hot food and a small salad bar and some various pies available.
By the time they began to clear away the buffet, it was absolutely swealtering in the room and we were all becoming drenched with sweat. It was hard to imagine we might still be able to have a good time and be entertained by the show, but I tried to get focused and ready to pay attention. I hoped upon hopes that director, Renee Dobson, put together a good show. She and musical director, David T. Snyder, had the proverbial deck stacked against them in my opinion. It was so hot, they were going to have to put on an amazing show to make it work for the audience.
Fanny Brice was played superbly by Victoria Healy, as a young teen bit by the acting bug and itching to make it in show business. The show followed her career from start to the break up of her marriage. Healy showed us her amazing acting capabilities and fantastic voice. She was the absolute saving grace for the evening for me.
Fanny’s mother, Mrs. Brice, played by Rosemary Benson, portrayed a perfect Jewish mother, complete with all the love and martyrdom that comes along with it. And, the comic relief that was embodied by the card playing friends of Fanny’s mother, helped a lot, too. Mrs. Strakosh, played by Trudy Graboyes, was absolutely hysterical, as the frenemy of Mrs. Brice, constantly trying to best her friend with her own children’s accomplishments. I found myself excited every time she appeared back on stage. Mrs. Meeker & Mrs. O’Malley, played by Lindsay Mauck & Renee Grant, respectivly, both had fine voices and served as the less ostentatious friends to Mrs. Brice & Mrs. Strakosh.
Fanny has a friend in vaudeville dancer, Eddie Ryan, play by Brett Anderson, who also happened to be the choreographer. I rather enjoyed his performance, as the nerdy, next door type, pining after Fanny and doing anything to help her in her career. Anderson had such stamina and stage presence, I really fell in love with his character.
Fanny Brice’s main love interest, Nick Arnstein, was masterfully played by Paul McElwee. He came off as smooth and debonair and just the right amount of smarmy. Fanny’s character was supposed to be a teenager when she met Arnstein for the first time. He seemed so much more mature and worldly than her, that it kind of made my skin crawl.
A singular stand out performance for me was Matt Flocco, portraying the Ziegfeld tenor. His strong and vibrant voice sent chills down my spine. I would love to see him play a leading role.
The women playing the vaudeville actresses/Ziegfeld girls were all such seemingly lovely women, but there was an unfortunate issue with the mics cutting in and out for some of them and it really took me out of the moment. There is nothing worse than a technical difficulty breaking the fourth wall. It was hard to concentrate. I felt bad for them, as they seemed to be working so hard, but I couldn’t truly enjoy their performance. I’m sure Faith Sacher, Leah Senseney, Amanda Spivack, & Alexa Wilder did there very best to overcome these obstacles. They really shone bright in the Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat song and dance number in the second act.
As a whole, the actors did an excellent job, despite the extreme temperatures and technical glitches. Especially Victoria Healy, as Fanny!!!
The Candlelight Dinner Theatre
EmKay is a graduate of Kutztown University with a BFA in theatre, music, and writing. She’s worked in the theatrical and musical world from NYC to New Orleans. When she’s not at work, she enjoys seeing live theater and concerts, as well as baking and crafting and collecting vinyl records.