How do you revive a classic musical with wit, flair and a feeling of originality?
Just ask the creative team of Funny Girl, at the Savoy Theatre.
I was blown away.
Funny Girl was a show I knew little about, which makes a pleasant change for me as I know most musicals I see inside out before I take my seat. All I knew was the iconic 'Don't Rain on my Parade' - nothing else of the story, the songs or the themes.
I went expecting a fantastic show, but was unprepared for just how much I would fall in love with Fanny Brice and her story.
I've tried to play it cool and not launch in with my praise for Natasha J Barnes but my goodness, what a star. Effortlessly funny, likeable, charming and with one of the best voices I've heard in a long time, I couldn't imagine a more perfect role for her.
I was with her every second, every sideways glance to the audience, every stunning note, every happiness and every heartbreak.
In 'Don't Rain on my Parade' and its reprise I was sobbing, and I felt so overwhelmed at the audience reaction to her bows. She too seemed completely overcome, and it just made me leave loving her even more.
The story is a great one, telling of Fanny's rise to fame having been told she'd never make it as a chorus girl as she just wasn't pretty enough.
The other chorus girls and her mother and friends build up the most wonderful supporting cast, and I definitely want to attend one of the parties on her street because those women know how to have a good time!
It felt at once very classic and 'old-school' yet fresh and bright and new. The comedy of the script and songs is timeless, and this production showed that with the right casting it can continue to delight day after day.
The other surprise of the night was Darius Campbell, as the charming Nick Arnstein. I hadn't realised he was in the show but the second he walked on the stage and opened his mouth I recognised that voice. He was brilliantly cast as the man who you weren't sure whether to love or hate. Arnstein is such an interesting character, because his flaws are so human, and you spend the whole show deciding whether you want to root for him or not.
Campbell played both the suave gentleman and the broken man beautifully, and his voice blended so well with Barnes in 'I Want to be Seen With You Tonight' and 'You Are Woman'.
If you can get to the Savoy during Funny Girl's run, you really must. It was so funny, heartwarming and inspiring, and I had a magical evening.