La Chanze, Spencer Kayden and Julia Murney are the three latest Fanny Brices to take part in the Sept. 23 star studded concert presentation of Funny Girl to benefit The Actors' Fund of America.
The evening — the second annual concert production to benefit the organization — will present nearly two dozen actresses who will share the lead role of Fanny Brice. As of press time, Fannys will include Carolee Carmello, Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole, Sutton Foster, Ana Gasteyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski, Ricki Lake, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, Bebe Neuwirth, Lillias White and Marissa Jaret Winokur.
Former Noises Off star Peter Gallagher will portray Nick Arnstein, and the ensemble will include John Paul Almon, Gary Beach, Mary Birdsong, John Bolton, Steven Brinberg, Bill Burns, Paul Castree, Jason Danieley, Aisha DeHaas, Edie, Robert Fowler, Laurie Gamache, Diedre Goodwin, Peter Gregus, Julie Halston, Shannon Hammons, Jamie Harris, Sam Harris, Stacey Todd Holt, Mary Ann Hu, Damian Keenan, Richard Kind, Sara Lepere, Kate Coffman Lloyd, David Mckeown, Varla Jean Merman, Brad Musgrove, Brad Oscar, Jessica Perrizo, Michelle Potterf, Keenah Reid, Jermaine Rembert, Rusty Reynolds, Ric Ryder, Jenny Sandler, Michael Serapiglia, Liz Smith, Alan Souza, Eileen Tepper, Gay Willis and Kristine Zbornik, as well as Kaye Ballard, Len Cariou, Marcia Lewis and John Scherer.
Featuring music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill and a book by Isobel Lennart, the concert will be helmed by Peter Flynn, whose New York directorial credits include Purple Hearts at the McGinn-Cazale Theatre, Up in the Air for Playwrights Horizons and A Wedding Album at the Lamb's. Flynn has also directed at regional theatres throughout the country and is currently working on his own new musical, Lily, with composer-lyricist Brooks Ashmanskas. He also staged a New York reading of the Horatio Alger musical, Shine.
Seth Rudetsky, who was responsible for the first Actors' Fund concert, Dreamgirls: The 20th Anniversary Concert, will be the musical director for Funny Girl, which will also feature choreography by Davanand Janki and Robert Tatad. Janki choreographed Amahl & the Night Visitors and Babes in Toyland, both for Lincoln Center, and has helped mount Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' annual Broadway Bares shows for the past seven seasons. As a performer, Janki starred on Broadway in Side Show, Miss Saigon, Cats and The King and I. Tatad, who served as an associate director for last year's Dreamgirls benefit, was most recently a choreographer and creative associate for Broadway Bares: A Comic Strip. The remainder of the creative team includes Rob Bissinger (set designer), Martin Vreeland (lighting designer), Cynthia J. Hawkins (sound designer), Jeff Johnson Doherty (costume designer), MAC Cosmetics (make-up consultants), Lisa Iacucci (production stage manager). Tim Pinckney has adapted the musical for the concert.
The Styne-Merrill-Lennart musical, which celebrated the life of the late Fanny Brice, made a star of Barbra Streisand, who would reprise her role on film to Oscar winning effect. Funny Girl will be presented at 7:30 PM at the New Amsterdam Theatre (214 W. 42nd Street). Tickets priced at $75, $100 and $250 are already sold out, although those priced between $500 and $2,500 are still available. To purchase seats, call The Actors' Fund at (212) 221 7300. Further details are available by calling The Actors' Fund or by visiting www.actorsfund.org.
Funny Girl opened at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre on March 26, 1964. Its Jule Styne-Bob Merrill score includes such tunes as "Sadie, Sadie," "Don't Rain on My Parade," "I'm the Greatest Star," "The Music That Makes Me Dance," "Who Are You Now?" and the show's anthem, "People."
The Actors' Fund of America, a nonprofit organization founded in 1882, provides for the social welfare of all entertainment professionals. Its headquarters and The Aurora Residence are located in New York City, and its nursing home and assisted living care facility are in Englewood, New Jersey.
—By Robert Simonson