You wouldn’t expect it, but Hawaii has its own broadway-esque mini culture just minutes from Waikiki at the Diamond Head Theatre. Thespian enthusiasts gather for playwright productions, and all are melting over the current hit, Funny Girl.
Be prepared to get your hearts stolen by Kaiser High grad Isabelle Decauwert’s beautiful voice.
Nearly 50 years ago, Barbra Streisand told the world not to rain on her parade. The then up-and-coming broadway newbie owned her role in the 1964 musical Funny Girl, which propelled her into a lifelong career adorned with prestigious awards and recognitions. It soon became clear that this American singer-songwriter and actress had truly lived up to her confidence-infused Funny Girl number, “I’m the Greatest Star.”
Since then, only a handful of productions have dared dance in the shadows of Streisand’s highly-praised performance. Places like, Pittsburgh, L.A., New Jersey and Illinois have taken the challenge. Now, all eyes are on the local cast and crew of Diamond Head Theatre, which stepped up to the theatrical plate with its fall musical and rare revival of Funny Girl.
Isabelle Decauwert, a local actress who spent many years on Broadway, has returned to headline the show as Fanny Brice and gives a powerful performance as the awkward vaudeville star with an obsessive ambition to make it big-time on Broadway. The stage version of Funny Girl also features Hawaii’s own Shari Lynn as Fanny’s mother. The semi-autobiographical story chronicles the career of real-life Brice and her turbulent relationship with gambler Nick Arnstein.
(Top) Fanny Brice and Nick Arnstein fall madly in love. (Bottom) Well-known Hawaii entertainer Shari Lynn (right) stars as Fanny’s mother.
Both acts send the audience through a sea of undulating emotions. Funny girl Fanny triggers outbursts of laughter throughout much of the play with her quirky dance moves and light-heartedness. By the second act, let’s just say it’s easy to forget you’re even watching a play. All the basic elements of theatre come together in portraying one believable “world” to the audience, which quickly becomes consumed by the thickened plot. Some emotional relief is offered when Fanny for the second time sings the familiar tune “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” coming full circle through her journey with pure confidence, grace and poise.
Hawaii’s take on Funny Girl will be showing at the Diamond Head Theatre from now until Oct. 7, 2012. Hopefully you’ll leave humming along to the tunes in your head, as well as an enlightened outlook on the theatrical side of the islands you might not have known existed.
“ FUNNY GIRL” • Sept. 21 until Oct. 7, 2012 at 8pm (Thursday- Saturday); 4pm (Sunday); 3pm matinee (Oct. 6) • Tickets cost $15 to $50 • Box Office: Opens M-F 830am-5pm, 808-733-0274 • www.diamondheadtheatre.com
Photo Courtesy: Diamond Head Theatre, Brad Goda