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Barbra Streisand. Lea Michele. Katerina McCrimmon?

Folks are so accustomed to seeing big names play the title character of "Funny Girl" that when relatively unknown Miami native McCrimmon was cast in the lead role for the Broadway tour, a lot of social media commenters went, "Who?"

In fact, McCrimmon deleted herself from Instagram and other sites to avoid negative comments. But now elements of her character's story have merged with those of her own, and she's silencing the skeptics.

"I'm living Fanny's experience, for sure," said McCrimmon. "In the show, nobody believed in her until she sings, 'I'm the Greatest Star.' When I sing that, I feel like it's not Fanny saying those words but me, telling all my doubters, just watch."

Streisand was 21 when she originated the title role in the 1964 musical by composer Jule Styne, lyricist Bob Merrill and book-writer Isobel Lennart. Nominated for eight Tonys, "Funny Girl" did not win one. But it had worthy competition — the Carol Channing-led "Hello, Dolly" that won 10.

Harvey Fierstein revised the book for the updated version of "Funny Girl" that opens Tuesday at Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre, but the songs remain, including "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade."

From her phrasing to her breath control, and her agility and range, Streisand left an indelible stamp on all these numbers. In fact, McCrimmon has become so enamored of Streisand that she recently had a scary Jedi mind-meld moment after immersing herself too deeply in Streisand's autobiography, "My Name Is Barbra."

"I found that her inflections, mannerisms — all her stuff just started creeping into my performance," McCrimmon said. "I love Barbra, but I don't want to be her. I had to put her down because when you copy someone, you set yourself up for failure. I can only be me."

That sounds like something Fanny would say. Authentic and idiosyncratic, Fanny dreams of vaudeville-era stage stardom. But everyone dismisses her because of how she looks.

"She's not perceived as a conventional beauty, and she doesn't fit into any neat box," McCrimmon said. "She has to break through all these expectations."

A new book and the casting of a relatively unknown McCrimmon are not the only updates to "Funny Girl." This revival by director Michael Mayer, whose credits include "Smash," also includes a heavy dose of tap dance choreographed by celebrated hoofer Ayodele Casel.

"Tap has been a long part of the Broadway tradition, and we use it to bring depth, sophistication and elegance to the story," Casel said. "I was able to anchor it in my own tap history. It invites the audience in and gives them a big, warm hug."

In a phone interview from Milwaukee, where the national tour landed before making its way to Minnesota, McCrimmon spoke in a way that made it difficult to distinguish between herself and her character.

The daughter of a Cuba-born social worker mother and a Tampa-born dad who was an English teacher, McCrimmon grew up in a household that had no concept of what to do with her dreams. Her earliest memory is of her 4-year-old self singing in a bathtub. At 8, she saw a production of "Madeline's Christmas" on a school field trip that made her realize she could be up there.

"There were 12 little girls onstage and ooh, they were my age," McCrimmon said. "I can do this."

With the support of her family, she pursued her passion and caught the eye of some stars. After she was named a presidential scholar in the arts in 2016, Debbie Allen directed her in a show at the Kennedy Center, where she performed "People."

She was officially "discovered" by Marisa Tomei, who mentored and encouraged her for her Broadway debut, which was in "The Rose Tattoo," a 2019 revival of the Tennessee Williams play that was going to be her big moment on the stage. But then the pandemic hit. She didn't do another show until 2021.

"In between, I was dog-walking, babysitting, working as a barista," McCrimmon said.

But now that things are back to a new normal, she travels the country and savors her character's wins. Fanny is an original, and gives everyone, especially young women, permission to be themselves and to stand in their own unique beauty.

"It's been over 100 performances, and it never gets old," McCrimmon said. "The best part has been meeting people at the stage door where everyone has been so kind."

Fans have brought her art and hats with her name embroidered on them. Young girls often come to the show dressed up as Fanny.

"It doesn't get any sweeter than that," McCrimmon said.

'Funny Girl'
When: 7:30 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sun.
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.
Tickets: $34-$139.