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FLASH FRIDAY: The Greatest Star! FUNNY GIRL Is Finally Coming Back

Today we celebrate this week's hot news of the forthcoming West End revival of Broadway classic FUNNY GIRL!

Who Are You Now?

"Don't Rain On My Parade". "People". "I'm The Greatest Star". "Cornet Man". "The Music That Makes Me Dance". Stuffed full with songs known around the world and a performance piece for a capable triple-threat performer like few others ever composed, FUNNY GIRL is startlingly and strikingly unique when looking at its unusual history leading up to its debut on the Great White Way back in 1964. Originally envisioned as a vehicle for rising star Anne Bancroft, Jerome Robbins met with several starry composing teams and headliners in his journey to bring the life of Fanny Brice to the stage. Producer Ray Stark had originally planned the biographical project based on Brice to be a feature film, but when contacted by theatrical legend Mary Martin about making it into a musical he jumped at the opportunity to do so and compelled master director/choreographer Jerome Robbins to join him. Unfortunately, original pitched composing team of Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, hot off of GYPSY at the time, did not warm to the idea - although, as history would have it, Styne eventually composed the music for the final stage show as we now know it, along with lyrics by Bob Merrill, a book by Isobel Lennart and direction by Garson Kanin. Other intermittent Fannys considered during this time include Eydie Gorme and Carol Burnett before Stark and Robbins (and, soon thereafter, notorious producer extraordinaire David Merrick) eventually settled on a standout from I CAN GET IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE, a rising star by the name of Barbra Streisand. The rest, they say, is history - an unforgettable performance for the ages that many lucky enough to witness are still salivating over and discussing with relish to this very day, more than 50 years later.

What is FUNNY GIRL without Barbra Streisand? Well, we are about to find out! A West End revival helmed by Michael Mayer and starring UK stage superstar Sheridan Smith is set to be unveiled at the end of this year, just in time for the 50th anniversary since the musical first premiered across the pond, way back in 1966. As those of us stateside saw with the 50th anniversary festivities for FUNNY GIRL back in 2014 - which included an elaborately produced commemorative re-release of the original Broadway cast recording - the desire for a full-scale FUNNY GIRL revival among Broadway babies and entertainment enthusiasts is ever-growing with each passing year and accumulating season. Most importantly, GLEE headliner and Broadway star Lea Michele revealed exclusively in an InDepth InterView with me in 2014, GLEE creator Ryan Murphy currently holds the US stage rights and plans to produce a revival showcasing the admitted Barbra devotee and musical theatre stalwart some season soon. Will Sheridan Smith be able to measure up to the impossibly high standards set by Streisand onstage, and, subsequently, onscreen? Furthermore, was the generous preview of the material presented on the fifth season of GLEE highlighted by Michele's performance of several Styne showstoppers merely an amuse bouche of what she will bring onstage? With material this ripe for re-appraisal and revival with a show so clearly designed for a showstopping performance for the ages, anything is possible.

Who will ultimately be "the greatest star" in a Broadway revival of FUNNY GIRL? Time will tell, but until then we have some fantastic clips and material to mull over and enjoy - and the delectable prospect of Sheridan Smith, too!

People

So, now, revisit some highlights from the long and storied legacy of FUNNY GIRL onstage and onscreen.

First up, revisit one of the most thrilling overtures in Broadway history.

Next, view stunning and vivid vintage footage of the original Broadway production.
Barbra Streisand performs her introductory number in the feature film edition of FUNNY GIRL.

After that, enjoy Streisand singing a song written especially for the film.

Streisand pays tribute to FUNNY GIRL in her TV special MY NAME IS BARBRA.

Hear a fascinating backstage interview with Streisand form the opening night of FUNNY GIRL.

After that, see the blazing finale of FUNNY GIRL with Brice's own "My Man" interpolated into the movie score.

Streisand revisited one of FUNNY GIRL's most famous songs on her duets album PARTNERS, "People".

After that, enjoy the song composed for the stage show in that same slot, "The Music That Makes Me Dance".

Also, Idina Menzel tributes FUNNY GIRL on GLEE with a song written for the famous film.

Lea Michele performs "Don't Rain On My Parade" live on the Tony Awards.

Plus, Lillias White takes on the epic Act One closer.

Golden-throated dynamite diva Shirley Bassey makes a trio of FUNNY GIRL tunes her own.

Lastly, Diana Ross and The Supremes perform a FUNNY GIRL medley on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW.

As a special bonus, check out Jeremy Jordan giving his take on the show's most famous song.

What is your absolute favorite song from the sensational score for FUNNY GIRL? Furthermore, who would you ideally like to see headline a revival on Broadway some season soon? Considering that it is one of the most spectacular star-making showcases in the entire entertainment realm, the possibilities to consider are copious and delicious. After all, at the end of the day, people are people, but the people chosen to play Fanny Brice are... stars.

Photo Credits: Masterworks Broadway, Twitter, etc.



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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)