A Tony nominee for The Motherf**ker With the Hat this past season and Mauritius in 2008, Cannavale will take on the role of American businessman (and con man) Arnstein, Brice's second husband. The role was originated on stage by Sydney Chaplin and played by Omar Sharif in the film.
"It's always been my dream to star in a Broadway musical," Cannavale said in a statement. "This is a terrific role for my musical theatre debut and an exciting challenge for me. I look forward to working with the brilliant Bartlett Sher and the amazingly talented Lauren Ambrose." Coincidentally, Cannavale guest starred on "Six Feet Under," which featured Ambrose among its ensemble cast.
Tony Award-winning South Pacific and Light in the Piazza director Bartlett Sher will stage the revival that will play a Los Angeles tryout at the Ahmanson Theatre Jan. 15-Feb. 26, 2012. The production is aiming for a spring 2012 Broadway arrival. Rehearsals begin in New York this November.
"I think it is fair to say Bobby is one of the finest artists working on an American stage today, and we are very fortunate to have him joining us on this adventure. Bobby has all of the qualities I feel you want in casting Nick Arnstein," Sher said in a statement. "Nicky Arnstein was a gangster and con man and elegant, charming bon vivant all rolled into one. Bobby is wonderful at playing charismatic streetwise characters, he's a magnetic stage actor, equally adept with comedy and drama, plus he'll be a dashing presence in Nick Arnstein's tuxes and ruffled shirts. More than anything, Funny Girl is a love story and it needs a powerful couple at its center. I'm thrilled that he's joining Lauren Ambrose and I think they are going to be wonderful as Nicky and Fanny."
Cannavale is also known for his roles on "Nurse Jackie," "Will & Grace," "Sex and the City" and "Cupid." He starred in the Second Stage Theatre production of Trust Off-Broadway last summer and has also been seen in Hurlyburly and Fucking A at the Public Theater. As previously reported, it is expected that the new incarnation of Funny Girl will incorporate music previously cut from the musical. Sher is also looking at strengthening the second act, which explores the dissolution of Brice's marriage. The film famously jettisoned "The Music That Makes Me Dance" from the Broadway production to include Brice's signature song, "My Man." The film also included several period songs from the era that Brice performed.
Ambrose made her Broadway debut in 2006 under Sher's direction in the revival of Clifford Odets' Depression-era play Awake and Sing! for Lincoln Center Theater. Though she is not known for her singing, Ambrose studied classical voice and fronts the band Lauren Ambrose and the Leisure Class. She has covered "My Man" during several gigs at Joe's Pub. Ambrose's stage credits also include Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet for the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park and the London production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child.
Tony Award-winning producer Bob Boyett, who co-produced War Horse and South Pacific with Lincoln Center Theater, where Sher is resident director, holds the rights to Funny Girl. The L.A. engagement will be produced by the Center Theatre Group with special permission from Boyett, Sonia Friedman Productions, Jean Doumanian, Stacey Mindich and Tim Levy.
Sher will reunite with his Tony Award-winning creative team from the 2008 South Pacific Broadway revival, which was produced by Lincoln Center Theater in association with Boyett. Funny Girl will have musical supervision by Kimberly Grigsby, choreography by Christopher Gattelli, set design by Michael Yeargan, costume design by Catherine Zuber, lighting design by Donald Holder and sound design by Scott Lehrer.
Funny Girl features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill and a book by Isobel Lennart. "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" are standouts from the score.