Resurrection is in for 2015, but worry not as zombies won’t be involved. According to CNN, THE 2006 NBC series “Heroes” will be revived for a 13-episode series next year under the name “Heroes Reborn,” – quite appropriate for the occasion.Read More
FUNNY GIRL, starring two-time Emmy Award nominee Lauren Ambrose as Fanny Brice and two-time Tony Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Bobby Cannavale as Nick Arnstein, will open on Broadway in April, 2012 at the Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street), following its engagement at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles from January 15 through February 26, 2012, it was announced today by producer Bob Boyett. Additional casting, preview and opening dates will be announced shortly. It will be the first time FUNNY GIRL will be on Broadway since the 1964 original production.
FUNNY GIRL features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill and book by Isobel Lennart, and will be directed by Tony Award-winner Bartlett Sher.
“It’s been 47 years since FUNNY GIRL has been on Broadway, but I’m sure that everyone is as thrilled as I am to have it back in New York this spring, following our Los Angeles engagement,” commented producer Bob Boyett. “Fanny Brice was the greatest star of the early 20th century and we cannot wait to examine this fascinating woman’s life and career, with our great stars Lauren Ambrose and Bobby Cannavale and the incredibly talented Bart Sher at the helm with his extraordinary creative team.”
FUNNY GIRL is the road-to-stardom story of legendary entertainer Fanny Brice (Lauren Ambrose), from her start in a Brooklyn music hall to her meteoric rise as a headliner in the Ziegfeld Follies. While her career soars, she falls in love with charming gambler Nick Arnstein (Bobby Cannavale), just as his own lucky streak is running out. FUNNY GIRL is an irresistible backstage drama, a heartbreaking romance and a classic musical comedy filled with unforgettable songs by the team of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill including “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “I’m the Greatest Star,” “The Music That Makes Me Dance,” and the iconic hit “People.”
FUNNY GIRL originally opened on Broadway on March 26, 1964 at the Winter Garden Theatre and played for 1,348 performances. FUNNY GIRL was a hit on national tour and in London and was adapted to the screen for the popular 1968 movie version, but has not played Broadway since the original production closed in 1967.
Scenic design is by Michael Yeargan, costume design by Catherine Zuber, lighting design by Donald Holder and sound design by Scott Lehrer. Music director is Kimberly Grigsby. Choreographer is Christopher Gattelli.
FUNNY GIRL will be produced in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatre by Center Theatre Group, with special permission from Bob Boyett, Sonia Friedman Productions, Jean Doumanian, Stacey Mindich and Tim Levy. FUNNY GIRL will be produced on Broadway by Bob Boyett, Sonia Friedman Productions, Jean Doumanian, Stacey Mindich, Tim Levy and Center Theatre Group.
It is 1971. The place is New York City and before the demolition of his landmark theater, Dimitri Weismann (David Sabin) summons his former actors and dancers to reunite and relive for one last time the glory days of his ‘Weismann Follies.’ While there, two couples (Bernadette Peters, Danny Burstein, Jan Maxwell, Ron Raines) relive the old memories of when they first met and reexamine their present lives, in particular, their marriages. It will definitely be a night they’ll never forget.
This is the interesting premise of ‘Follies,’ the James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim musical revival that leaves the stage of The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C and moves over to the brights lights of Broadway at the Marquis Theater. Before I even sat down to see it, word was out that ‘Follies’ was the show to beat headed into the Tony’s in 2012. Well, how could you argue with that after Ben Brantley from The New York Times wrote that “Follies is one of the greatest musicals ever written”. Literally that might true, but the performance I saw was far from it. It was a night of highs and lows punctuated by a shockingly and rare disappointing performance from Bernadette Peters. The iconic actress seemed narcotized and sang off-key most of the night, especially during her “show-stopping solo” – Losing My Mind. Even the best have a bad day here and there. Nevertheless, her co-stars kept the ship steady and the direction from Eric Schaeffer was solid.
The book by James Goldman can only be described as a somber and stark take on marriage, nostalgia and growing old. The themes it takes on are unfortunately all bleak: divorce, recalling your prime and confronting your present mortality, infidelity and unwanted change. But that doesn’t mean musicals of this nature are destined for gloom and doom. No sir, shows like ‘Next To Normal’ (a depressing and demoralizing show if I ever saw one) have demonstrated that as long as the music is infectious and the performances are moving and sincere, you can be as hopeless as you want. ‘Follies’ regrettably, doesn’t compare to the latter show due to its slow, lulling pace, it’s forgettable music and unappealing characters. And perhaps if Ms. Peters delivered more of a ‘sober’ and spirited performance, my experience might have been better. Perhaps Mr. Schaeffer can offer other ways for the character of Sally to live within her. There was no question in the theater that the night belonged to Jan Maxwell who received the most thunderous applauses of the night along with Elaine Paige who gave a delightful and charismatic supporting performance. They unequivocally eclipsed Ms. Peters right off the stage. There was nothing absolutely memorable of her interpretation except her name.
I would catalog the first act of the program as a blend of heartbreak, cynicism and humanity. Some of the numbers and characters weren’t necessary and I would say some of it bogged down the production. The second act is the one worth seeing due to the colorful and visual dreamscape sequences, lively choreography and some emotional performances. Overall, what really stood out to me was the remarkable lighting design of Natasha Katz which introduced the younger versions of the elderly showgirls in a beautiful and inventive way. It was a treat to see to see how the stars stayed in color light while their ghosts were lit in blues and greens.
There are some crowd pleasing numbers to look forward to such as the nostalgic opening number, ‘Beautiful Girls,’ the vivacious ‘Who’s That Woman,’ Elaine Paige’s inspiring solo ‘I’m Still Here’ and Jan Maxwell’s vengeful ‘Could I Leave You’ and her sassy and sensual ‘The Story of Lucy and Jesse’.
Inside the Marquis Theater, Derek McLane’s gray and dilapidated drapes blanket the whole auditorium while the stage design offers an authentic feel of a historic place ready to say its goodbyes.
On a curious note, if you see Mr. Raines forgetting his line towards the end of his solo act, ‘Live, Love, Laugh,’ it is intentional and part of the act. Don’t go thinking you saw a ‘live’ error.
Schaeffer’s ‘Follies’ is in concept engrossing, but alas, it possesses challenges that don’t translate to a great night out nor the best of the Sondheim collection.