BWW Previews: FUNNY GIRL at Candlelight Music Theatre
Aisle Say - your bottomless cistern of institutional theatrical memory in Delaware - cannot recall if FUNNY GIRL has ever been performed here. That's good for a number of reasons: it is an opportunity to see the vehicle that made Streisand; to celebrate Fanny Brice, one of the great comediennes in history (although fictionalized somewhat); to hear "People" and, finally, that the rental license to stage the show gave Candlelight a financial balance to their next production, the very popular and tres expensive BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
The show opened on Brdway in 1964. The backstory is as fascinating as its success. It was produced by Ray Stark, who was married to Fannie's daughter. He had commissioned a screenplay on her life. Mary Martin (Peter Pan) read it and wanted to play Fannie. He went to Sondheim to write the lyrics for the musical. Sondheim's reply? "I don't want to do the life of Fanny Brice with Mary Martin. She's not Jewish. You need someone ethnic for the part."
Streisand was performing in Greenwich Village and Stark went to see her. She was cast. She rebelled against the fabled Director Garson Kanin because he wanted "People" cut. Hallo! La Barbra's temperament is of Hollywood legend.
FUNNY GIRL was nominated for 8 Tony's. Unfortunately for them, this was the same year as HELLO DOLLY.
Aisle Say is happy to see Candlelight veteran Tori Healy in the title role. She's earned her stripes. Tori is one of the funniest people to grace a stage. (PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN come to mind.) In every show she is extraordinary and an indisputable hoot to boot.
Paul McElwee is Nick Arnstein, the charming and sophisticated gambler Fanny falls for and eventually marries. The production is directed by Renee Dobson and features Barry Gomolka as Florenz Ziegfeld; Rosemary Benson as Mrs. Brice, Fanny's mother; and Brett Anderson as Eddie Ryan.
Other memorable tunes in the show include "Don't Rain On My Parade", "I'm The Greatest Star" and "The Music That Makes Me Dance".
Candlelight remains the greatest bargain in dinner and theater, bar none.
Sept 16 thru Oct 18 Candlelighttheatredelaware.com 302.475.2313