‘Funny Girl’ revival is canceled


LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Fanny Brice would have blown her top at the news: The revival of “Funny Girl,” based on the life of the old trooper, was canceled.

Previews of the show were scheduled to start Jan. 15 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, followed by a Broadway run at the Imperial Theatre in April.

The show’s New York producers blamed the weak economy for the cancellation, saying it would have cost $12 million to launch what would have been one of Broadway’s most expensive revivals.

In Los Angeles, artistic director Michael Ritchie said he was looking for a replacement production for one of America’s quintessential Jewish musicals.

“Funny Girl,” which transformed Barbra Streisand into a stage and screen star, is based on the life of Brice, a comedienne in the 1920s and 1930s. She was the daughter of a Jewish saloonkeeper on New York’s Lower East Side.

Brice made up for her lack of conventional beauty with an enormous talent that propelled her to stardom in the Ziegfeld Follies. Later she embarked on a second career in her radio incarnation as Baby Snooks.

The role of Brice is so identified with a Jewish performer that when the non-Jewish actress Lauren Ambrose was cast in the role for the now-canceled revival, the blogosphere lit up with skeptical comments questioning whether Ambrose could do justice to the role.

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