Playing the part of a marquee idol is daunting on its own. Playing one made famous by Barbra Streisand may seem like a fool’s errand, doubtless one reason “Funny Girl” hasn’t been on Broadway since its original staging in 1964. But it’s no exaggeration to say that a star is being born at the August Wilson Theatre, where Beanie Feldstein toplines a winning revival with her own distinct cache of wit and charisma.
Comparisons to Streisand are inevitable — this revival’s opening night even aligns with the Brooklyn grande dame’s 80th birthday. But the benchmarks she set, first on stage and then with her Oscar-winning performance in the 1968 film, are impossible to match. It would be just as well to let the elephant in the room with the world-famous schnoz sit gracefully to one side. Because Feldstein doesn’t allow herself to be overshadowed by the role’s legacy, but rather pratfalls into the spotlight to make it her own.