“Funny Girl” is based on the life story of Ziegfeld sensation and comedian Fanny Brice, from her start in vaudeville and burlesque to her romance with entrepreneur and gambler Nick Arnstein and success on stage and in film. The show was produced by Brice’s son-in-law Ray Stark, a prolific film producer in post-war Hollywood who commissioned a book about her; he went through several writers and a version of the story before selecting Isobel Lennart’s. Originally titled “My Man,” Julie Styne and Bob Merrill wrote the music and lyrics. The musical debuted on Broadway in 1964 and was the star vehicle for Barbra Streisand who became known for the shows classic songs “People Who Need People” and “Don't Rain on My Parade.” “Funny Girl” was recently revived in London and won an award for Best Revival of a Musical.
This is the first musical theatre production of the 2018-19 season for Ovation West Performing Arts, formerly known as the Evergreen Chorale, and the first that is being presented under their new organizational name. Stage director Timothy Kennedy is back for his fifth production working alongside music director Christine Gaudreau and choreographer Racheal McWilliams Lessard. In addition, the production team includes costume designer Davis Sibley, set designer Biz Schaugaard, and lighting designer Brian Billings and sound designer Scott Messler. Kennedy, Gaudreau, Sibley and Schaugaard were all recognized in 2016 and 2017 by BroadwayWorld Denver for their work on the Evergreen Chorale productions of “My Fair Lady” and the regional premiere of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, which also was chosen by BWW Denver as best musical in 2017.
Asked about his preparation for directing this production, Kennedy said “I have so enjoyed researching the rich history behind this story and especially getting to know the larger-than-life persona of Fanny Brice, the original Funny Girl. Fanny paved the way for comediennes like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres, and Tina Fey, who all owe a huge debt to her! Before Fanny Brice, women were seen as beautiful singers or dancers that were nice to watch and listen to, but didn't have much to say. Fanny Brice used her charm and humor to become a comedic star and redefined women's roles in entertainment. She also negotiated her own contracts and was one of the highest paid performers of her time - male or female. It's hard to imagine where we might be now if she had not been a Ziegfeld Star.”
Denver area theater-goers will recognize many familiar faces in the cast. Colleen Lee, who has performed in several recent productions including as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” and Velma Kelly in “Chicago”, will portray Fanny Brice. Trevor Warren, who recently appeared at Center Stage as Dan in “Next To Normal” and Larry in “Company” has also been seen locally as Inspector Javert in “Les Miserables” and Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls”. Fanny’s mother will be played by Christine Kahane, who was Mrs. Pierce in “My Fair Lady” and a gargoyle in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Barbara Porreca has been cast as Mrs. Strokash, Dave Cameron as Eddie, and Ian Kisluk as Ziegfeld.
Tickets are $30 Adults; $26 seniors (62+), $20 Youth (18 and under), $25 groups of 10 or more and available by phone 303-674-4002 or online at www.ovationwest.org.