(Marya Grandy As Fanny Brice. Photo By Alicia Donelan)
Asolo Repertory Theatre presents
Fanny Brice, America's Funny Girl
Before there was a Lucy or Ethel, Gracie Allen or Imogene Coca, Fanny Brice was the female comic superstar.
Fanny Brice, America's Funny Girl will open May 23, 2012 and run until June 17, 2012. Previews begin May 20. Fanny Brice, America's Funny Girl is a reworking of Maltz Jupiter Theatre's 2009 hit production Fanny Brice: The Real Funny Girl. Writer and Director David H. Bell modified the script and is bringing Asolo Rep the most inspiring version yet. TCPalm raved, "Marya Grandy may not be the real Fanny Brice…but she just might be a new version of Ethel Merman. That's with a little Patti LuPone and the emotional singing delivery al a Judy Garland tossed in for good measure". WJTW FM said "what really brought the audience to its feet for a standing ovation however was the finale…it doesn't get any better than that."
Born Fania Borach on the Lower East Side of New York City in 1891, Brice began her career on stage with a burlesque troupe at the age of 17. Two years later she was headlining for the Ziegfeld Follies, and by 1921 she released her signature song, "My Man." Brice became one of the biggest comedic stars to grace the stage, yet her personal life wasn't as successful, with heartache and betrayal followed her at every step and her three marriages all ending in divorce. During her tumultuous marriage to husband #3 Billy Rose, Brice launched her own weekly radio show and introduced the world to her newest character, Baby Snooks. For almost 15 years Brice entertained listeners with her impersonation of the mischievous toddler until she passed away in 1951 at the age of 59.
Recreating the spirit of ballyhoo, flim-flam and artistic genius of the early Broadway era, this new musical showcases Fanny Brice at her best and worst: creating laughs for her adoring public and singing the songs that made her an American icon while also working tirelessly to keep her personal relationships from disintegrating. Known for her witty banter, Brice was quoted once saying, "Listen, kid! I've done everything in the theatre except marry a property man. I've been a soubrette in burlesque and I've accompanied stereopticon slides. I've acted for Belasco and I've laid 'em out in the rows at the Palace. I've doubled as an alligator, I've worked for The Shuberts, and I've been joined to Billy Rose in the holy bonds. I've painted the house boards and I've sold tickets and I've been fired by George M. Cohan. I've played in London before the king and in Oil City before miners with lanterns in their caps."
Playwright and director Bell said, "Fanny Brice is a type of American icon that fascinates me - A 'super nova' on stage - with the ability to be both a hysterical low-comedienne and a moving torch singer, and often do both in the same show. She was an elegant, articulate and witty woman off stage who turned herself into an awkward, gangly Yiddish stereotype on stage for laughs-- she would do anything that she needed to do to get those laughs - and yet personally her life was in shambles. She made every wrong choice imaginable in the name of love. That distance between her comic public persona - and her struggle with unhappiness, loneliness and tragedy is the stuff of drama. I have grown to love her, and I hope others learn to love her too.