Opened: Broadway Original March 26, 1964
Funny Girl Director: Original- Garson Kanin
Funny Girl Music By: Original- Jule Styne
Funny Girl Book By: Original- Isobel Lennart
Funny Girl Lyrics By: Original- Bob Merrill
Broadway Theatre: Original, Winter Garden Theatre, Majestic Theatre, The Broadway Theatre
Tony Award Nominations: Original- 8
Tony Awards Won: Original- 0
Notes: Based on the life of Fanny Brice.
The original Broadway musical Funny Girl would not only star Barbra Streisand, but would be adapted into her first feature film, one that earned her an Academy Award and firmly launched a spectacular film career. The twists and turns it took to get Funny Girl to the Broadway stage hardly guaranteed this outcome.
The musical is based on the life of Fanny Brice, an early star of stage, screen, and Ziegfeld Follies that went on not to just act, but create and star in her own radio comedy. Brice's son-in-law, Ray Stark, would produce the original Broadway version, charting a long and winding course from the idea's inception to the final product on the Broadway stage. A revolving door of writers, lyricists, and directors were attached to the oft-delayed project before the final creative team coalesced.
Like any good story about Hollywood success, Streisand was not the first choice to play the title character. Screen legends like Anne Bancroft, Eydie Gormé, and Carol Burnett all were considered or even attached, but fell through. Despite resistance, Streisand was cast in the role that would contribute to her rise to superstardom. Throughout a number of national preview performances, the book and music were revised, usually shortened, in the run up to a delayed March opening at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1964.
The musical examines Brice's life as she reflects on her life through a series of flashbacks to her early days in vaudeville, meeting her future husband, Nick Arnstein, and finally finding success as part of the famous Ziegfeld Follies. One of the more famous songs, "People," gave Streisand a #1 radio hit, but was nearly cut from the production.
The original Funny Girl ran for 1,348 performances through three different Broadway theatres. Streisand reprised the role for a second West End production in 1996. While the musical was considered a success, and earned 8 Tony nominations, it lost in each category, many to Hello, Dolly! Streisand would end up staring in the film adaptation of that musical as well.
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