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Theatre / Funny Girl

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"Don't tell me not to live, just sit and putter
Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter
Don't bring around a cloud to rain on my parade."
— "Don't Rain on My Parade"

This 1964 musical, based on the life of Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice, was the breakthrough role for Barbra Streisand. In 1968, William Wyler helmed the film version, also starring Streisand, who tied with Katharine Hepburn for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, Funny Girl chronicles Brice's life from her humble beginnings to meeting her future first husband (real-life second husband), poker player Nick Arnstein (originated by Sydney Chaplin on Broadway, played by Omar Sharif in the film). She becomes famous in the Follies, but leaves to marry him. He eventually runs himself into financial ruin, and is busted for his part in a bonds scam.

A sequel to the film version, Funny Lady, was released in 1975. Streisand and Sharif reprised their roles and James Caan played third husband Billy Rose.

In the 2010s, director Michael Mayer helmed a revival from a revised book by Harvey Fierstein. The 2016 West End production of the revised show starred Sheridan Smith and Darius Campbell as Fanny and Nick. The 2022 production first starred Beanie Feldstein and Jane Lynch as the Brices and Ramin Karimloo as Nick; Feldstein and Lynch were then replaced by Lea Michele and Tovah Feldshuh.

This work features examples of:

  • Babies Ever After: The number "Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady" is about Fanny's dream of settling down and having a family with Nick. The trope is thusly subverted, as having the baby puts more strain on Fanny and Nick's relationship due to both of them working so much.
  • Broken Record: "His Love Makes Me Beautiful" is full of extravagance. "These are the words - repeating, repeating, repeating repeating inside..." Then the first verse simply repeats itself for the second. But then Inverted by the way that Fanny sings Verse Two.
  • Corpsing: In-universe example. During "His Love Makes Me Beautiful", Fanny shocks everyone by appearing pregnant onstage. The dancers surrounding her can be heard snickering and a couple are trying really hard not to laugh.
  • Did Not Get The Guy: Fanny's relationship with Nick ultimately does not work out and she powers through her performance alone.
  • Eleven O'Clock Number:
    • In the musical, "Music That Makes Me Dance", after hearing of his arrest, Fanny finally admits to herself that Nick is neither a good person or a good husband, but despite everything she still loves him and his zest for life, and realizes, despite all his faults, he does genuinely love her too.
    • From the film the title song "Funny Girl", Fanny tries to cheer herself up, but despite being a "funny girl", she gives in to the realities of her husband going to prison, and that her problems are too much for her to ignore her heartbreak anymore.
  • Genki Girl: Fanny is depicted as very enthusiastic and bright-eyed, especially in her youth.
  • Homage: In The Film of the Play, Streisand sings "Second Hand Rose", which was one of Brice's biggest hits (and later became one of Streisand's). Also, Baby Snooks was Brice's most popular character.
  • How We Got Here: The story begins when Fanny's waiting for Nick to be released from prison. The narrative works its way back to there.
  • "I Am" Song: "I'm the Greatest Star" establishes Fanny's charisma as an actress despite her not being conventionally beautiful.
  • Instant Expert: After stumbling and rolling wildly all over the stage, Fanny suddenly learns to roller skate for her unexpected "I'd Rather Be Blue" solo.
  • Inverted Portrait: The drawing of Brice on the original 1964 poster and cast album. The film poster recycled that drawing, as would several home-video covers.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In the song "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat", while playing a role with the last name Schwartz with a Yiddish accent:
I'm through and through red, white and bluish,
I talk this way because I'm British.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Flo Ziegfeld's musicals were entirely serious. Fanny decides, without telling him, to lampoon the concept of a "Spring bride" by making said bride appear obviously pregnant. Flo, who is watching, is initially shocked, but when he sees the audience roaring with laughter, realizes she may be on to something.
  • Pillow Pregnancy: Parodied in "His Love Makes Me Beautiful," where Fanny shoves an obvious pillow under her dress to play a pregnant bride.
  • Pretty in Mink: Fanny wears a number of furs, including a leopard and mink coat in her first scene.
  • Race for Your Love: Used at the end of the film's first act. Fanny, having had a Love Epiphany, tells Ziegfield and all his follies to go jump in a lake and takes the train to see Nicky. But when she finally gets to New York - his boat is gone. So she pays a little cargo ship to ferry her to her one true love, singing her heart out all the way.
  • Remaster: Sony commissioned two: a photochemical restoration for the 2001 theatrical re-release and DVD debut, and a 4K digital restoration for the 2013 Blu-Ray debut.
  • Silver Fox: In the musical-only song "Who Taught Her Everything?" Fanny's mother, Rosie Brice, jokingly asserts herself to be a hot old lady that everybody would want to pursue.
  • Small Start, Big Finish: The reprise of "Don't Rain on My Parade". Fanny starts with a volume that's almost dialogue-like. The final "nobody is gonna rain on my parade!" ends on an Incredibly Long Note as she asserts herself, and the accompaniment is also brassier and grander at the end.
  • Smash Cut: Part way through the wacky Swan Lake parody which Fanny has been flailing and mugging her way through, the scene abruptly changes to her sitting alone in the dark after the show, sullenly smoking a cigarette.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" has Fanny sing as "Private Schvartz from Rockaway" (whose vocabulary has just been shown to include "bagels" and "tzimmis"):
    I'm through and through
    Red, white and bluish—
    I talk this way
    Because I'm British! (Cue 4 bars of "Rule Brittania")
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Half the musical numbers are in shows or rehearsals.