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Stage West's fine version of Funny Girl hits a few low notes

It would be unfair to call the musical Funny Girl a one-woman show. After all, the stage is filled with people working their hearts out singing, dancing and acting for more than 2 1/2 hours.

But, in truth, the story, very loosely based on the early life of 1920s comedian Fanny Brice, is so thin, and Fanny's solos so dominant that, at the end of the evening, that's almost how it seems — even more so when someone like stage newcomer Ashley Ducale plays Fanny.

Ms. Ducale's carefully trained voice is strong and clear, producing a Broadway-style belt that sounds not only pleasing, but very safe for the singer because she's been taught how to use it. Whether it's People, Don't Rain on My Parade, or some of the lesser-known numbers, it's Ms. Ducale's voice that shines through everything.

That's not to say there aren't many other fine moments in the show, playing weekends through May 15 at Stage West Community Playhouse.

Any scene with Lynda Dilts-Benson as Fanny's mom, Mrs. Brice, is a joy. Ms. Benson is a stage natural, and her easygoing manner puts everyone at ease. In Find Yourself a Man, she is joined by a delightful Brian Moran as Fanny's mentor/admirer Eddie and a charming Linda Campo as neighborhood friend Mrs. Strakosh to provide a show highlight.

Tenor Joe McDermott's rendition of His Love Makes Me Beautiful is indeed a beautiful segment. Misty Hornsby's squeaky-voiced Vera pops in for some sweetly comical twinkle. Choreographer Terri Marwood's six-member dance line adds spark and emphasis with its precision steps.

What problems there are with Funny Girl come from imprecise direction by John Masterson and some faulty light design.


'Funny Girl'

Funny Girl, a musical, 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and May 14; and at 2 p.m. Sunday and May 15, at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill. Tickets are $15, reserved seating. Box office is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and May 14, and one hour before each show. Call (352) 683-5113.

Stage West's fine version of Funny Girl hits a few low notes 05/06/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 6, 2011 9:10pm]
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