Paul Anthony Stewart and Sara Shepard
in Funny Girl
(© Johnny Knight)
Paul Anthony Stewart and Sara Shepard
in Funny Girl
(© Johnny Knight)
A revival of Funny Girl, starring Sara Sheperd as Fanny Brice and Emmy nominee Paul Anthony Stewart as Nick Arnstein, has officially opened at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace. The production is co-conceived by Gary Griffin and William Osetek, with direction by Osetek, and continues through March 7.

The musical, with a book by Isobel Lennart and a score by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, also features Catherine Smitko (Mrs. Brice), Marc Grapey (Florenz Ziegfeld), Jameson Cooper (Eddie Ryan), Iris Lieberman (Mrs. Strakosh), Tammy Mader (Emma), Mary Mulligan (Mrs. O'Malley), and Holly Stauder (Mrs. Meeker).

The reviews are in, and while the production is receiving a mixed reaction from critics, Sheperd's performance in the role originated on stage and screen by Barbra Streisand is drawing praise.

Among the reviews are:

Chicago Tribune
'Funny Girl' at Drury Lane: A lot of weather changes for this parade
"Sheperd can certainly sing this part, and her pivotal performance nearly works. But not quite. It feels like one step in the process was left out. Neither the character's journey, nor the source of her vulnerabilities, nor the soul of her relationship with Paul Anthony Stewart's charming but overly elusive Nick are on display with enough clarity. It's as if this team of creators assembled a very fascinating and carefully conceived jigsaw, but then didn't give their key actors the solution to the finished puzzle. The show is fully in the game. But no one quite connects. "

Chicago Sun-Times
Brice is right at Drury Lane
"Director William Osetek (who co-conceived this production with Gary Griffin), has tapped Sara Sheperd, an ensemble member of Broadway's recent Cry Baby, to play Brice. And the dark-haired, decidedly non-glam actress brings a big voice, strong energy and honest acting to the role. Her expertly conversational approach to the show's terrific songs bears the clear influence of a Griffin tutorial, as does her smart, naturalistic take on the role overall."

Time Out Chicago
Funny Girl
"As a musical revue, however, the production doesn't disappoint. A nine-piece orchestra ably assists this two-dozen-plus ensemble. In early group numbers, over-busy choreography nearly eclipses Sheperd. Fortunately, her final, impassioned sung soliloquies make a serious case to put the DVD down and see the damn thing live."