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Funny Girl Summary
- Show Status: Opening Soon
- Genre: Musical
- Funny Girl is 2 hours and 15 minutes long, including an intermission of 15 minutes
- 8 Shows per week
- Previews Begin: March 26, 2022
- Show Opens: April 24, 2022
- Show Closes: Open ended
Biographical musical about the life and career of Vaudeville, Broadway and film star, Fanny Brice and her relationship with her miscreant husband Nicky Arnstein
Funny Girl on Broadway Background
Funny Girl is an American biographical musical about the real-life story of Fanny Brice who was a star on Vaudeville, Broadway, film and an early female comedian who shaped the industry for all that followed.
The show was originally produced on Broadway in 1964 and was later made into an award winning film in 1968. The original show and movie should not be confused with the novel of the same name written by Nick Hornby that was published in 2014.
Funny Girl Broadway Show 1964
The original 1964 Broadway show production was produced by Ray Stark and was written by Isobel Lennart. The music was written by Jule Styne and the lyrics came from Bob Merrill. Stark was able to provide first hand knowledge of the life experiences of Fanny Brice as he became her son-in-law when he married her daughter Frances in September 1940 and therefore he had over 24 years of shared experiences to add to the plot.
The show’s original title was My Man, but was changed at the last moment to better capture the critical responses to Brice’s story and to turn the focus back to Brice, when clearly Arnstein was a bit-player in her life story. Although critically acclaimed, the production failed to win any Tony awards despite being nominated for eight of the illustrious Awards at the ceremony in 1965.
Show Starred 'Then' Newcomer Barbra Streisand
The show starred relative newcomer Barbra Streisand in the lead as Fanny Brice. Streisand was then fresh off her acclaimed role in I Can Get It For You Wholesale that ran for 300 performances in 1962. The 1968 movie version was a romanticized version of the Fanny Brice story that ultimately became the breakout movie role for Streisand, much as the Broadway show was for her. She then went on to win the Oscar for best actress later that year.
Streisand starred opposite Omar Sharif as Nicky Arnstein, her love interest, but the director decided to make her husband a far more exotic character than the real-life cad from New Jersey that she had actually married.
West End Show Run in 1966
After the success of the show on Broadway, the show then had a West End run in 1966 and then toured across the world to much critical acclaim. A West End revival came in 2016 and a UK tour in 2017.
Idina Menzel Was Slated For Broadway Revival
This latest incarnation of the show featured Idina Menzel in the lead role and Michael Mayer directing, who is fresh off his critically acclaimed directorial debut at Little Shop of Horrors. Harvey Fierstein also has a hand in this production with a revised version of the book, that updates much much of the funnier parts of the show and brings it back to the reality of the Fanny Brice story.
Menzel Faced Controversy
Critics complain that Idina Menzel has lost much of her luster after the debacle with If/Then that barely crawled over the one year finish line in its Broadway debut in 2015. Pundits also bemoan that the whole pre-feminism story of Fanny Brice and Funny Girl cannot be reshaped to fit in a post-feminism, #MeToo world where women are now doing it for themselves and have little sympathy for the pasts lack of activism.
Beanie Feldstein Now Set For Role in Spring 2022
With the Idina Menzel controversy now well behind them, Funny Girl show producers have decided to cast Beanie Feldstein in the lead role of Fanny Brice. Feldstein is known for mostly TV and movie work, but she did appear in Hello Dolly in 2017. Feldstein is also pretty well connected. She is best friends with Ben Platt with whom she went to high school and even Feldstein's brother is movie actor and director Jonah Hill.
What’s Funny Girl Like?
The musical is set in New York City in the two time periods that book-end World War I.
The show begins as Brice is reflecting on her life while waiting for the return of her husband, Nicky Arnstein, from Leavenworth prison in Kansas for serving jail time for various charges including embezzlement and conspiracy to sell fake securities.
It was not Arnstein's first visit to the big house as he had previously served time for a swindling and corruption charges ten years earlier which resulted in a stint at New York’s Sing-Sing prison. Fanny Brice clearly knew that Arnstein was as corrupt as they come, but she had lacked the ability and confidence to be able to walk away from this man and their troubled relationship.
Brice's Career Takes Off
Brice laments on their life together and her rags to riches story is told as a flashback where Fanny gets her very first job in vaudeville and builds on her talent and success from there to become the hottest commodity on Broadway.
When Fanny's career takes off, she ditches her family and friends when she meets the handsome, but corrupt, Nicky Arnstein with whom she quickly falls in love. Fanny’s career takes off when she becomes a big star with the Ziegfeld Follies and the money starts rolling in.
She marries Nicky and they move into a mansion on Long Island. It is then that her husband springs his next con by asking her boss, Ziegfeld, to invest in a casino venture idea. When Ziegfeld passes on the poorly crafted plan, Fanny insists on investing herself, to keep her husband happy, but her action has the unintended consequence of making her husband feel like a kept man and all the emotions that surround that.
When the casino venture fails due to the rejection of gaming licenses and they lose all their investment money, Fanny still tries to make light of it to lessen her husband's guilt, but inside she is mortified at the loss.
As a last ditch attempt to make a fast buck, the now-broke Nicky gets involved in a fake bond deal which results in his arrest for embezzlement.
During her life Fanny has many opportunities to walk away from this con-man, but she continues her destructive behavior of continuing to listen to her heart instead of her head.
Popular Show Tunes
The show features many popular songs that were written specifically for the show including "Second Hand Rose", "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade"
Poignant Show Ending
At the end of the show, Fanny finally decides to separate from her husband when he is released from prison, and the show ends right there.
In real life, she soon divorces Arnstein after his release, but it took a terrible marriage to Arnstein that lasted over 9 years before Brice finally realized that she could not come to terms with the fact that Arnstein was not just a professional gambler, a confidence trickster and a general low-life, but he was also a man who lacked empathy for others and he cared for and loved no-one other than himself. Arnstein was a textbook sociopath.
Brice's judgement was wholly wrong about him the whole time they were together and despite the deep love that she had for him, there was no real meaningful love between the two of them. The show ending leaves audiences feeling a little flat, but hopeful for the future. The reality is somewhat different.
Is Funny Girl Good for Kids?
Funny Girl is perfect for the older generation to connect with and absolutely not for children. With its raw language and adult themes, the show is not recommended for anyone under the age of 16.
August Wilson Theatre
New York, NY 10019
- Fanny Brice
- Beanie Feldstein
- Nicky Arnstein
- Ramin Karimloo
- Mrs. Rosie Brice
- Jane Lynch
- Eddie Ryan
- Jared Grimes
Sonia Friedman Productions
- Michael Mayer
- Revised book
- Harvey Fierstein
- Original Book
- Isabel Lennart
- Jule Styne