The Paper Mill Playhouse production of the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill musical, Funny Girl opens April 6. Barbra Streisand’s original star vehicle on Broadway, Funny Girl features a book by Isobel Lennart. The show began previews April 4 and runs through May 20.
As reported, the Paper Mill revival will feature a Jersey Girl in the title role. Legendary comedienne and Ziegfeld star Fanny Brice (1891-1951) will be played by Leslie Kritzer, in her biggest role to date. Kritzer was featured in the Off-Broadway revival of Godspell where she sang “Learn Your Lessons Well.” She played the title role in Evita last year at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn, New York. A graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Kritzer was raised near Milburn's Paper Mill Playhouse, in neighboring Livingston, New Jersey and currently resides in Hoboken.
The two other main characters in this biographical account of Brice’s life will be played by Robert Cuccioli (as Nicky Arnstein) and AMC Movie Classics host Bob Dorian (as legendary showman Florenz Ziegfeld).
The real-life Fanny Brice was Brooklyn born and raised and aspired to stardom from an early age. A gifted singer and comedienne, she performed on an amateur stage as early as 14. Brice was discovered in 1910 at the age of 17 by Ziegfeld who signed her to a contract despite the fact that she was still underage. Brice’s career extended from Vaudeville to Broadway, film, radio and even the very early days of television.
The Paper Mill revival is helmed by Robert Johanson. The creative team for Funny Girl comprises set designer Michael Anania, costume designer David Murin, choreographer Michael Lichtefeld and musical director Tom Helm. Fanny Brice’s real-life signature song, “My Man” is not in the production, but many of Styne and Merrill’s memorable songs from the stage and film versions of the show are, including “I’m the Greatest Star,” “People,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “The Music That Makes Me Dance.”
—By Murdoch McBride