Tonight, marked KMTC’s 126th production, it is hard to believe that this company began in 1943 as Knutsford Amateur Operatic Society (KAOS) as it is a company that has not been on my radar before this evening, but certainly will be from this day forward. KMTC is one of the leading community theatre companies in the North West of England, with a vision to bring a diverse and talented mix of performers together and to make theatre accessible and affordable to everyone.
I was honoured enough to meet Lesley Reed KMTC’s President who informed me about her 40-year run involved with this magnificent theatre company, and how things have evolved over the years. There is clearly a family feel with this company with its resident Director Ben Ireson with his huge accolade of awards and vast experience in the theatre world, also Musical Director Michael J Scott a multiple award winner for NODA and ACT who has been the resident conductor since 2018. Together this dynamic duo has brought the best out of their local talent to the stage, which was clearly evident tonight.
Funny Girl is based on the true-life story of Fanny Brice (Kirsty Podlaski), a showgirl in Florenz Ziegfeld’s (Oliver Ball) Ziegfeld Follies. The story takes place long after the peak of her fame, when Fanny is awaiting the arrival of her husband, Nicky Arnstein (Joel Merry), from prison. Fanny recounts her life up to this point, starting with how she had big dreams of being a star as a young girl, but was discouraged from show business because she wasn’t conventionally attractive. Eventually, she gets a job in Vaudeville and finally in the Follies, becoming an audience hit when she turns classical romantic numbers into a comedy routine.
She meets Arnstein at the afterparty following her debut Follies show, and the two quickly fall in love. Arnstein’s shady past as a gambler looms large, however, Fanny is determined not to let it affect their love but in the end addiction always does.
The show is full of the kind of great music that we come to expect from Jule Styne which includes several show-stopping numbers such as “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade”.
This is Podlaski’s debut as a leading lady in KMTC, and what a tremendous interpretation of Fanny Brice this gifted lady delivered with just the right amount of quirkiness and comedy. It is no easy task playing Fanny as the role demands copious amounts of energy and impeccable vocals to sing the challenging power notes required in the solos. Her rendition of ‘I’m The Greatest Star’, ‘People’ and the infamous ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ were flawless and awe-inspiring, and for this I applaud her. Merry delivered a wholesome and substantial portrayal of Nick Arnstein which was worthy of any leading man on the professional circuit.
There were absolutely no weak links in this talented cast, all tasked with portraying iconic characters they each lived up to the expectation and exceeded it with their own flare. It is so difficult not to mention every single character and applaud them individually for their strengths and outstanding talent but be assured that each and every one on that stage was magnificent.
Huge credit to Choreographer Sophie Meggitt for producing remarkable dance routines and synchronisation with the entire cast, as this created the most exquisite visual display of dance and movement throughout the show.
Well done to the creative, production team and live orchestra for this phenomenal show, and to all the cast for putting their hearts and souls into their characters and delivering a first-class performance of Funny Girl.
The show runs until Saturday the 21st of October 2023, so grab a ticket and enjoy the pure escapism for a couple of hours of the life and times of Fanny Brice the Funny Girl!
Reviewer: Katie Leicester
Reviewed: 18th October 2023
North West End UK Rating: