‘Funny Girl’ delights Santa Rosa audience

Every woman wants to feel as though she possess something special, whether she’s recognized for her beauty, talent, humor or character. Human beings all differentiate from one another, and each and every one of us are trying to make the best with what we’ve got, to prove that we can make it on our own in this world. It’s that power that comes from within—the kind that convinces us that we are unique and of great worth—that makes some of us stand out from the crowd.

Growing up I’ve always had a sweet spot for musicals, but after watching “Funny Girl” for the first time with Barbara Streisand, something resonated within me that I believe captured others in the same way. Fanny Brice’s character is so raw, that even in her most awkward moments one cannot help but smile and laugh with her rather than at her. It was to no surprise that I rushed to the opening night of “Funny Girl’ at The 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa upon hearing it’s current showtimes from Friday to Sept. 14. It’s an American classic, and it instantly became very apparent to me how proud the theater was to be running the show, along with many other classics in the near future. Barry Martin, the Director of the show, had a few words to say about the production.

“With one of the most wonderful scores ever written, and a story based on interesting real people, Funny Girl is simply one of the best musicals ever. But during the course of directing this production I discovered a love not just for the show but for Fanny Brice too —an amazing woman who was far ahead of her time, who took her career into her own hands and became a star on her own terms,” said Martin. “She paved the way and she was loved by those she worked with - a thoughtful and caring person, down to earth and real - a far cry from the reputation of many of today’s big stars.” 

Even as I sat in the crowd, I could feel the pulsating vibrations of all the positive energies coming from each of the audience members throughout the entire performance. The demographic was roughly 80 percent ranging between their 40s-70s, and the rest were a mere 20 percent of children and young adults. However, all ages alike had smiles from ear to ear. 

What I enjoyed most about the tone of the play was how it allowed the audience to be interactive without appearing rude. Since “Funny Girl” is a story based on a woman who is not particularly a “Miss American Beauty,” but has a heart of gold and a sense of humor that blows all other personalities out of the water, the tone for the show was quirky, comical and refreshing. On several occasions audience members would shout out in the middle of scenes, allowing a certain freedom to be a part of the show, rather than just a quiet bystander/observer. Hollers, cheers, laugher and even out-loud peanut-gallery commentary such as, “awww yeahhh’s” made the whole experience feel welcoming and exciting, like I was part of something communally. 

“Funny Girl’ has elements in the story that each and every one of us can relate to; including self-discovery, passion, matters of self-esteem, breaking barriers, individuality, and even the classic heart break we’re all familiar with: when love is found, only to then be lost. Because of its relatable characters involved in a story consisting of relatable experiences, it truly is an amazing show that hits the audience where is counts. I certainly could relate to Fanny’s drive and determination to be recognized, yet conflicted within her own insecurities of beauty, trying to make it in a world where it mattered “if a girl isn’t pretty.” 

Fanny Brice, along with all of the other characters in Funny Girl, really remind ourselves that we are all human, and it doesn’t matter how much talent we have or how special we are, we all still love and hurt the same. Funny Girl emphasizes that we all deserve respect and recognition; even it has to be demanded and sought out through our own desires. Fanny made the world her stage, quite literally, and she did it her way, without compromising herself; moving mountains and paving the way for other women in show business, all the while making her own mistakes, as all people do. 

As I was passing through the crowd once the show was over, there wasn’t a single unhappy face in the building. Joy, laughter and harmony filled the concessions and lobby area all the way to the parking lot, full of entertained and satisfied Sonoma County locals, already talking about the next show they will be attending at the 6th Street Playhouse. I felt welcomed and at home in the seats of the theater, and even standing around listening to others chatter at the beginning, intermission and end of the show. 

It became very clear to me that the 6th Street Playhouse had a proud, local, dedicated audience. One show in, and now I’m convinced that the 6th Street Playhouse knows what they’re doing in their production choices, and has made a new regular viewer out of me. I look forward to productions they will be holding in the future, including “The Adams Family Musical,” “Clybourne Park,” “The Glass Menagerie” and “Assassins.” I truly urge everyone to see “Funny Girl” while it’s out before it’s gone on Sept. 14. If you are looking for some comic relief involving and a quirky real girl to remind the world that not all women are the same, than this is the perfect show.