If a Girl Isn’t Pretty: The Funny Girl Controversy

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Hello gorgeous! Hello Beanie! So here’s the thing, short and sweet. 

FUNNY GIRL is back on Broadway at the August Wilson Theater. I saw FUNNY GIRL in 1964 at the Winter Garden Theater with Barbra Streisand…

And I greatly anticipated this revival when it was announced. It is now in previews and the feedback at Broadway internet forums is worth discussing.

Oye, such controversy regarding the decisions in the casting! Some who have seen the show are criticizing the choice of Beanie Feldstein to play Fanny Brice. Under an umbrella of a conversation regarding “her instrument,” they talk about her voice not being strong enough and they say the songs are difficult for her. They suggest key changes and even go so far as to suggest some songs be eliminated.

Plus, comments are about Beanie not resembling Fanny Brice. But the most shocking comments are about her personal physical appearance which seems to be difficult for some to accept. They body shame and make snide comments. They get sarcastic and insult her weight. And I find that disgraceful.

Beanie is a confident woman. Her size does not determine her level of self-esteem. She did not create barriers for herself or close personal opportunities because of road blocks that others may have wanted to place in her way.

The women of today define themselves in a variety of creative and imaginative ways. Lizzo, Rebel Wilson and Meghan Trainor receive praise when they show their fans they have a place in this world and Nicole Byer is a new role model for girls with big dreams. Today’s newly defined female is not starving to fit into an old image that tells women how they have to look to have appeal. There are brands that display in their marketing advertisements proud women with diverse shapes who succeed in tearing down stale guidelines. So many young women are choosing grey hair to become “silver foxes.” Gwyneth Paltrow is comfortable wearing only lip gloss and when Alicia Keys is photographed with no makeup, she is changing the face of the concept of beauty. There are bold new looks emerging that are trending and eyeball worthy… women are being accepted for their own personal choices. 

I am rooting for Beanie! I find her voice lovely and I think she has a charming charisma and a sweet chemistry with Ramin Karimloo, who plays Nicky Arnstein. Her Fanny will pave the way for other girls who look like her to feel they too can have chances for which before they would never be considered. I hope doors that previously were closed will now be wide open in every career. Beanie is helping change the outdated “corporate image” and she is an inspiration for the new woman who is growing into the best version of herself that she designs.

Beanie, I am sitting here and cheering you on! I may not be at every performance but my heart is with you. I will be there in spirit and smiling during every standing ovation! You go, girl!

Follow Marjorie J. Levine on her blog.


  • Marjorie J. Levine

    Marjorie J. Levine is a standup comic, an actor, a blogger, an internet broadcaster, and poet. For thirty-five years, she was an elementary school teacher. She is a blogger and author of three books: Road Trips, the marjorie cartoons, and from THE Attic lost photos.

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