Nobody is Gonna Rain on Caroline’s Parade!
Funny Girl may have been the musical to kick off Barbra Streisand’s career, but Caroline O’Connor gives this leading lady a run for her money as she belts her way through these theatrical classics and brings her impeccable comic timing to the iconic role of Fanny Brice in The Production Company’s first show of 2016.
The role of Fanny Brice is a challenge for any actress. So closely associated with the legendary Barbra Streisand who originated the character on Broadway, in the West End and in the movie adaptation, there are songs that feel naturally linked to the performer, such as ‘People’, and then there are the songs that have worked their way into the musical theatre canon and have been covered by every working performer over the last fifty years (‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’). Despite these hurdles, Caroline O’Connor manages to capture the audience in every single one of her numbers from the moving ‘People’ and the Act One closer ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ through to the comedy number ‘Cornet Man’. Her impressive belt fills the hall. She moves across the stage giving younger performers a run for their money. And shines in the smaller moments exploring marital troubles between Fanny and Nicky Arnstein. Revisiting this character seventeen years later for The Production Company, Caroline O’Connor has certainly still got it.
Matching the tour de force O’Connor, is her leading man David Hobson and a well-chosen ensemble of Australia’s brightest up-and-coming talent. Mastering Kelly Abbey’s high energy and intricate period choreography, the whole ensemble (especially the men) rise to the challenge set by Caroline O’Connor while providing the perfect support for her to shine in a role that rarely leaves the stage. Special mention to Ziegfield Tenors Blake Appelqvist and Daniel Assetta for showing off some voices which will surely have a long career leading shows.
In the rare moments when Caroline O’Connor isn’t gracing the stage, the equally acclaimed Nancye Hayes takes over with Luke Alleva and Susan-ann Walker for some moments of comic relief, much needed in the second act when the subject matter moves more domestic. It was a shame that we didn’t get to see Nancye Hayes pull out those tap shoes again as last year’s Jerry’s Girls proved that she can still out dance the best of them, but this role allowed Nancye the opportunity to explore the much deeper character of Mrs. Brice as she explores ‘losing a daughter, and gaining a star’.
Due to changes with Orchestra Victoria, Funny Girl not only featured The Production Company debut of David Hobson, but also their own orchestra – The Production Company Orchestra. Bringing together some of Melbourne’s best musicians under the baton of internationally-renowned conductor Anthony Gabriele, this orchestra certainly did justice to Jule Styne’s iconic score enjoying one of the best overtures in the musical theatre repertoire.
Now in their 18th year, The Production Company shows no sign of slowing down attracting some of Australia’s best talent to give their best performances in these short runs. Funny Girl must close on July 31 which means that you only have nine more performances to watch Caroline O’Connor blow the roof off Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre with her interpretation of the iconic ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’. Book your tickets not at www.artscentremelbourne.com.au