Sunday, September 6, 2009

A dream role for Lea Michele

Now this is one bit of Jewish-related musical theatre trivia that I did not know.

Lea Michele, formerly of Spring Awakening on Broadway and currently in Glee, talks to The Washington Post about the Fox series and her ideal musical role:

"I want to be in Funny Girl. And I want [Glee creator] Ryan Murphy to direct it."

Would she do it on Broadway?

"I would do it in a basement in Brooklyn, if somebody would let me do it! It's the best role ever -- any Jewish girl would want to play Fanny Brice!"

Best role ever? Wow! Although I guess it makes sense - what other musicals are there with a Jewish woman in the lead role?

I don't think I've ever seen Funny Girl, based on the life of comedienne, singer and actress Fanny Brice. (Okay, maybe snippets here and there on tv.) Rest assured I'll be putting the movie in my Netflix queue right away.

The musical ran for three years on Broadway between 1964 and 1967, with Barbra Streisand in the title role, amassing 1,348 performances. Streisand reprised the role for the 1968 movie and won an Oscar, sharing the Best Actress prize with Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter.

And Funny Girl has never been revived on Broadway, although there was a special one-night benefit performance for The Actors Fund in 2002.

With the musical Ragtime and two Neil Simon plays - Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound - on the Great White Way this fall, there'll be more Jewish characters than I can remember. Maybe it's time for a Funny Girl revival?

Here's a great program from 1964 about Funny Girl's opening night on Broadway, featuring interviews with Streisand and others. It's so poignant to hear people talk about her when she was just on the cusp of fame:

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