The first London production since 1966
Believe it or not, the last time 'Funny Girl' was seen in London was the year that England lifted the World Cup – it's been that long...Despite being frequently voted as one of the best musicals ever written, the tuner hasn't been seen in a professional London production in almost 50 years, meaning an entire generation has been deprived of seeing it live on stage. The original Broadway production opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1964 where it ran for 1,348 performances and transferred to the West End's Prince of Wales Theatre in 1966 starring the original 'Fanny Brice' Barbra Streisand. The scaled-down Menier Chocolate Factory production features an impressive creative team led by director Michael Mayer who are set to reinvent the classic in a brand new, up close and personal way.
An Incredible Score of Hits
Anyone who has seen the West End production of 'Gypsy' will appreciate the song writing talent of Jule Styne, whose crossover hits include “Let it Snow”, “Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend” and “It's Magic”. He is responsible for hit musicals such as 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes', 'Peter Pan', 'Bells Are Ringing', 'Do Re Mi' and 'Sugar', as well as the stand out hits 'Gypsy' and 'Funny Girl'. Songs from the show have become popular hits, thanks in part to the popularity of Barbra Streisand who helped songs such as “People”, “I'm The Greatest Star” and the anthem “Don't Rain on My Parade” enjoy a life outside of the context of the show. The film version, which included a number of new songs brought the hits to a wider audience once again, with heartthrob Omar Sharif taking the role of Nicky, giving new life to the songs “You Are Woman, I am Man” and “Sadie Sadie”. The original cast album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004, cementing its place in show-tune heaven.
Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice
National Treasure in the making and recent OBE recipient Sheridan Smith can do no wrong. After delighting audiences on the small screen in shows such as 'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps' and 'Gavin and Stacey', she has gone on to make her mark in hard hitting dramatic roles including the recent hit biopic 'Cilla' and 'The C Word'. No stranger to the stage, Smith starred in West End productions of 'Bugsy Malone' and 'Into the Woods' at a young age, before returning to her breakthrough role of Elle Woods in the original London production of 'Legally Blonde' which saw her take home the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Her charm, charisma and humour make her the perfect choice for entertainer Fanny Brice, and we're delighted that she has chosen to come back to musical theatre, in such a challenging and exciting new production.
The Menier Chocolate Factory Quality
The Menier proves that size is not everything when it comes to theatre. Despite being a 150 seat theatre, the Southwark based venue have an international reputation for producing hit plays and musicals. From humble beginnings the venue has gone from strength to strength and has long established a stamp of quality – particularly in relation to its musical theatre revivals. Their recent production of 'The Color Purple' directed by John Doyle is preparing to open on Broadway later this season, following their previous revivals of Sondheim's 'A Little Night Music' and 'Sunday in the Park With George' which found their way to New York via a West End transfer. 'Merrily We Roll Along', 'Forbidden Broadway' and 'Sweet Charity' also found their way into town in larger productions, whilst retaining the charm of the original. With 'Funny Girl' already set to be the sold-out hit of the year, make sure you snag tickets to the original run to see it in the intimate space it was designed for. Rumours are already flying of a West End and possible Broadway transfer – so get ahead of the game and see it first!
A Tony Award-winning Director
The appeal of the Menier Chocolate Factory extends beyond just performers, with the brightest creative talents also wanting to work at the inspiring venue. For 'Funny Girl', the Menier have attracted American director Michael Mayer to bring a fresh take to the story. Mayer is currently represented on Broadway with the Tony Award-winning revival of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' which has previously starred Neil Patrick Harris. He won the Tony for Best Director in 2007 for his ground-breaking work on the original production of 'Spring Awakening' which starred Lea Michelle and Jonathan Groff. Other Broadway musical credits include 'American Idiot', 'Thoroughly Modern Millie', 'You're a Good Man Charlie Brown' and 'Triumph of Love', and plays include 'After the Fall' and ' 'night, Mother'. With such an inspiring director at the helm, we couldn't be more excited to see this incredible musical back on stage.