Riverside Theatre's Simply Amazing Season continues with the Broadway smash musical hit, Funny Girl. Nominated for eight Tony Awards including Best Musical Best Lead Actor and Actress and Best Original Score, the show was an immediate hit with audiences with an inspiring and beloved score including classic favorites "Don't Rain on My Parade," "I'm the Greatest Star," "The Music That Makes Me Dance" and the iconic hit, "People. Funny Girl performs on the Stark Stage from January 10 through 27, 2013 and is presented through the courtesy Riverside Theatre's Patron Producers.
One of Broadway's most acclaimed musicals and the show that catapulted the career of Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl tells the rise-to-stardom story of legendary entertainer Fanny Brice, from her start in a Brooklyn music hall to her improbable rise as a headliner in the Ziegfeld Follies. While her career soars, she falls in love with a charming gambler, Nick Arnstein, just as his own lucky streak is running out.
Produced by Ray Stark, Fanny's son-in-law by marriage to her daughter Frances, Funny Girl was written by Isobel Lennart, with music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Bob Merrill. Funny Girl opened on Broadway on March 26, 1964 and ran for over 1300 performances. The production starred Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice with Sydney Chaplin as Nicky Arnstein. Barbra reprised her role on London's West End in 1966 before filming the role that would give her an Academy Award.
Born in New York City in 1891, Fannie Borach was the third child of successful saloon owners of Hungarian Jewish decent. At the age of 14, Fanny made her first stage appearance at a theatre in Brooklyn where she won $5 at an amateur singing contest. In 1908, she dropped out of school to become an entertainer full time and work in a burlesque show. Two years later she began working with Florez Ziegfeld headlining his Ziefeld Follies on Broadway from 1910 to 1911 and again from 1921 to 1931. Her two signature songs, "My Man" and "Second Hand Rose", became hits when performed in the show and went on to popular acclaim when recorded for Victor Records. She recorded many songs for both Victor Records and Columbia Records, but none ever achieved the success of the first two. She would receive a posthumous Grammy Hall of Fame Award for her 1921 recording of "My Man".
A consummate entertainer, Fanny moved seamlessly from Broadway to film to radio. Her first major film role was in the 1928 film My Man followed by Be Yourself!, and Everybody Sing with Judy Garland. She was one of only three performers to portray herself in the 1936 film The Great Ziegfeld and reprised her role in Ziegfeld Follies in 1946. Her Broadway credits during that time included Fioretta, Sweet and Low, and Billy Rose's Crazy Quilt.
A Ziegfeld Follies skit co-written by playwright Moss Hart, would be become her signature role. Millions of Americans would gather around the radio to hear the weekly adventures of a bratty toddler named Baby Snooks. Although the radio program had a small audience in the studio during the broadcast, Fanny would perform the show in full costume completely embodying the character. She would play the role from 1936 until her untimely death in 1951 at the age of 59.
Riverside Theatre's production is directed and choreographed by James Brennan and stars Courtney Balan as Fanny Brice, James Sasser and Nick Arnstein, Ron Wisniski as Florez Zeigfeld, Susan Cella as Mrs. Brice, Brian Ogilvie as Eddie Ryan, Jane Strauss as Mrs. Strakosh, Ricchard Vida as Tom Keeney and Jaime Hartmann as Emma. The ensemble cast includes: Purdie Baumann, Craig Blake, Leanne Bowman, Mary Callahan, Alicia Clark, Gregory Dassonville, Rebecca Fale, Gabriela Gamache, Christopher Kotera, Jeff Kuhr, Christopher Lengerich, Kara Mikula, Katie O'Brien, Charles Osborne, Jillian Owens, Christina Reilly, Jeffrey Scott Stevens, and Eric Weaver.