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Jewish Journal

No laughs for ‘Funny Girl’

by  Tom Tugend

November 4, 2011 | 2:22 pm

That old trooper Fanny Brice would have blown her top at the news that the revival of “Funny Girl,” based on her life, has been cancelled.

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

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

A spokeswoman for the Center Theatre Group, which runs the Ahmanson and the Taper Forum, on Friday confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that artistic director Michael Ritchie had been informed of the New York decision on Thursday.

Ritchie announced that he was looking for a replacement production and the spokeswoman said that she had no information at this point about patrons’ reactions to the “Funny Girl” cancellation.

However, it is unlikely that any substitute will mollify fans of the quintessential Jewish musical (all right, we can argue about “Fiddler on the Roof.”)

“Funny Girl,” which launched the career of Barbra Streisand on stage and screen, is based on the life of the 1920s and ‘30s comedienne Fanny Brice, the daughter of a Jewish saloonkeeper on the Lower East Side.

She made up for her lack of conventional female prettiness 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 Lauren Ambrose was cast in the role for the now cancelled revival, the blogosphere lit up with skeptical comments questioning whether Ambrose could do justice to the role.

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