On Sept. 23 at 7 PM, theatre lovers will get the chance to see which actress sings which Jule Styne song, as a dozen or so women share the role of Fanny Brice in an all-star concert of Funny Girl.
As of press time, the actresses schedule to portray Fanny — the role created by Barbra Streisand in the 1964 musical — include Carolee Carmello, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Ana Gasteyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Spencer Kayden, Jane Krakowski, Judy Kuhn, La Chanze, Ricki Lake, Andrea Martin, Idina Menzel, Julia Murney, Bebe Neuwirth and Lillias White. [The previously announced Rosie O'Donnell, Audra McDonald, Megan Mullally, Christine Ebersole and Marissa Jaret Winokur have withdrawn from the evening at the New Amsterdam Theatre due to scheduling conflicts.]
A fundraiser for the Actors' Fund of America, the concert also boasts Peter Gallagher as Nicky Arnstein with Kaye Ballard, Len Cariou, Marcia Lewis Bryan and John Scherer in other principal roles. The starry ensemble includes John Paul Almon, Farah Alvin, Gary Beach, Mary Birdsong, John Bolton, Steven Brinberg, Bill Burns, Robin Byrd, Paul Castree, Jason Danieley, Edie, Robert Fowler, Laurie Gamache, Deidre Goodwin, Peter Gregus, Jamie Harris, Sam Harris, Stacey Todd Holt, Mary Ann Hu, Naomi Kakuk, Damian Keenan, Adrianne Lennox, Richard Kind, Sara Lepere, Kate Coffman-Lloyd, David McKeown, Varla Jean Merman, Brad Musgrove, Phyllis Newman, Brad Oscar, Christine Pedi, Jessica Perrizo, Michelle Potterf, Trisha Rapier, Jermaine Rembert, Rusty Reynolds, Ric Ryder, Jenny Sandler, Michael Serapiglia, Debra Denys Smith, Liz Smith, Alan Souza, Eileen Tepper, Gay Willis, Kristine Zbornik and The Rockettes.
Featuring music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill and a book by Isobel Lennart, the concert is being 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. Seth Rudetsky, who was responsible for the first Actors' Fund concert, Dreamgirls: The 20th Anniversary Concert, is the artistic producer and the musical director for Funny Girl, which 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.
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."
Visit the new Playbill On-Line feature called "Playbill Archives" for a periodic look back at Broadway and Playbill history. The inaugural edition of the feature, timed to accompany a new production or concert reading of a show from theatre's past, focuses on Funny Girl.
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 Andrew Gans