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Fanny Brice

On the Town with Chip Deffaa: On Fanny Brice and “Funny Girl”

June 6, 2022

I’ve often told friends what an impact "Funny Girl" had on me.  That was the show that made me fall completely, utterly, and permanently in love with Broadway. I was a teenager when I saw it—not quite 15.  I started taking  odd jobs to make some extra  money;  I stopped buying comic books;  I began skipping school lunches, too—I was trying to save every possible penny so I could  buy Broadway theater tickets. Theater became my top priority.   And as often as possible, I would go to see another Broadway show.  (Broadway was far more affordable then than it is now, and I was eager to check out everything—musicals, comedies, dramas. I could often get tickets to shows—up in the balcony--that didn’t cost much more than tickets to movies.)  "Funny Girl"—more than "My Fair Lady" or any other show I appreciated—was what got me really hooked on theater. And  I’m still grateful for that. [more]

Funny Girl

April 29, 2022

Beanie Feldstein’s clunky rendition of “I'm the Greatest Star” crystalizes the absurdist dimension of this off-kilter first Broadway revival of the 1964 musical, "Funny Girl." With her nasal, often muffled singing, oddly emphatic line readings and smug mugging, in no way does she suggest a great star, yet this nearly three-hour show is centered around her. It instantly deflates with her wan introductory “Hello, gorgeous.” She does exhibit idiosyncratic pluck and stamina throughout. [more]

Irving Berlin and Me (And a Brush with Death Along the Way)

April 5, 2022

In the past 20 years, I’ve produced a total of 34 different albums; 16 of them have dealt with Irving Berlin (1888-1989). The newest album in this ongoing Berlin series, "Chip Deffaa’s Irving Berlin: Love Songs and Such"--featuring such gifted artists as Betty Buckley, Karen Mason, Steve Ross, Anita Gillette, Jon Peterson, Natalie Douglas, Jeff Harnar, Sarah Rice, Bobby Belfry, Keith Anderson, Molly Ryan, and Seth Sikes--was the hardest of all the albums to produce. And, for reasons I’ll address in a bit, it took by far the longest time to produce; life is not always easy. But for me, this is the most satisfying album of the bunch. (And as I type these words, I’m happy to note it’s just been nominated for a MAC Award, which is extra gratifying!) I know I’ve made a worthwhile contribution to Berlin’s recorded legacy. [more]

ON THE TOWN… with Chip Deffaa, January 6, 2019

January 6, 2019

No one loves Berlin's music more than I do. But the creators of this stage adaptation have tried to jam too many well-known songs into the show. I think that cutting a couple of the songs, and letting characters talk a bit more would give the show a more natural feel, and give it some needed moments to breathe. And help us bond more with characters. And if you want to add a song to express the characters' feelings, pick the very best songs for the scene--not just the best-known songs. [more]

ON THE TOWN…. with CHIP DEFFAA , November 8, 2017

November 11, 2017

Memo to Broadway producers: You need to do everything you can to hook the next generation while they're young. I got hooked on theater because I saw the greatest performers, the greatest shows, from when I was very young. It would be very hard for a young person of today to see as much great theater as I did, growing up. When they read about some tickets going for a thousand bucks apiece, they might well conclude that theater isn't meant to be for them, but mostly for rich older folk. I have some friends who work in the theater who say they can't afford to take their families to shows. And that worries me. [more]

ON THE TOWN … with CHIP DEFFAA (Dec. 21, 2015)

December 23, 2015

It did my heart good to see Matanya Solomon dancing all-out after being pretty much sidelined as a "Nutcracker" dancer, due to injury, for the last two years. I greatly admire all good dancers for their dedication and hard work; but to not give up after being hampered for so long is extra admirable.  And he was fun as the Grandfather, making the most of the part (and interacting well with others) in the prologue (staged by Victoria Mazzarelli and Tim Melady). [more]