Here’s a roundup of reviews for the current Encores! production of Fanny.
Andy Propst at Theatremania: From the moment it begins, there’s a palpable sense of gentleness and delicacy…. [I]t’s essentially impossible to not be entranced by this delectable and neglected musical theater gem…. Both [Fred Applegate and George Hearn] deliver their songs with not only strength, but genuine warmth, and together they share a genial comic chemistry that radiates throughout the theater. As the young lovers, (Elena) Shaddow and (James) Snyder deliver powerhouse vocal performances. She rips into some of Rome’s most soaring numbers with a remarkably clear soprano; while Snyder’s vocals… resound with intensity.
Michael Sommors at New Jersey News Room: Crafted in the Golden Age of Broadway’s classic manner… Fanny rarely gets a hearing these days…. [I]t’s a pleasure to see the dear old thing again…. Under Marc Bruni’s smooth direction, first-class artists generate a good deal of magic. Genuine warmth can be seen in the growing bond between [Elena] Shaddow’s sweet, unassertive Fanny and [Fred] Applegate’s good-hearted Panisse. [James] Snyder makes an ardent Marius and George Hearn portrays his crusty dad with a twinkle. Taking a break from In the Heights, longtime Montclair resident Priscilla Lopez tartly depicts Fanny’s semi-fishwife of a mother.
Charles Isherwood at The New York Times: [T]hose susceptible to Broadway musicals in which doomed romance is set to soaring melody may find themselves getting a little choked up…. [T]he enduring charms of Fanny are affectionately showcased in this beautifully sung staging, directed by Marc Bruni…. Both [Elena] Shaddow and [James] Snyder make the most of their somewhat sketchy roles…. Shaddow could easily pass for French and has a soprano of lovely warmth and agility…. Mr. Snyder [is] also possessed of a gorgeous voice…. [George] Hearn is a welcome presence… in solid if not stentorian voice…. [T]he Encores! orchestra plays with its customary vigor and warmth.
Steven Suskin at Variety: Fans of lush, romantic, big-voiced musical comedy of the mid-20th century should plan a quick trip to the Encores! staging of Fanny…. [Harold] Rome – thus far known for snappily satirical songs of social significance – came up with a surprisingly romantic, if overly bounteous, score. Where Fanny faltered was in the absence of Hammerstein’s bookwriting and plot-crafting talents. [Fred] Applegate takes acting honors with his charming performance as the not-duped husband…. [Elena] Shaddow comes across fine, as does [James] Snyder.
Joe Dziemianowicz at the Daily News: If there was a compelling reason to drag Fanny out of musical mothballs, it never materializes at City Center…. what’s so striking about Mark Bruni’s stodgy staging is its failure to establish a sense of place. Marseilles? In France? Right? There’s no sense of that here. Pourquoi? Bruni doesn’t create a cohesive mood either. But even a more experienced director would struggle with that due to the show’s hodgepodge construction…. Elena Shaddow nails all her notes without hammering much emotion…. Fred Applegate… tilts too often toward easy laughs. It’s not that kind of show. As Cesar, the father of the boy Fanny loves, George Hearn… is ho-hum bland.
Erik Haagensen at Backstage: As a work of art, Fanny aspires more than it succeeds…. The wan Encores! concert version manages neither…. Encores! has inexplicably cast the fine supporting character actor Fred Applegate as Panisse. Though he seems to understand more than anyone else on stage just who his character is and gives the most honest performance, the uninventive Applegate lacks the star power necessary to elevate the character to the required level…. George Hearn’s perfunctory Cesar is charm-deficient…. The rest of the principals are undone by director Marc Bruni’s callow, tone-deaf direction.
So it seems you’ll either love it or hate it – nothing about this production falls somewhere in between for this group of critics.
Purchases from Amazon.com
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
1. Fanny 1954 Original Broadway Cast Recording CD.