Before Barbra Streisand won the leading role in Funny Girl,
it was turned down by Mary Martin, Anne Bancroft, and Carol Burnett.
Streisand's only other Broadway credit at the time was a small
role in I Can Get It For You Wholesale, but she was destined
to become even more famous than the showgirl she would portray
in the hit musical. Streisand's recording of "People"
was a hit before Funny Girl ever opened.
The plot of Funny Girl revolves around comedienne Fanny
Brice and her rise to fame in the early 20s. Told mostly in flashbacks,
the musical shows Fanny before she is discovered by showman Florenz
Ziegfeld, follows her through her first triumph in the Zeigfeld
Follies, her marriage to gangster Nick Arnstein, and the
break-up of that marriage after Nick finds himself in trouble
with the law.
After five opening-night postponements, Funny Girl
finally opened at the Winter Garden on March 26, 1964. The show
had gone through three directors (including Bob Fosse and Jerome
Robbins who eventually returned), four title changes, and numerous
script revisions, but the Broadway run--which lasted for 1,348
performances--was a great success. Miss Streisand, who had been
catapulted to stardom by the show, reprised her role in the 1968
screen version as well as the 1975 sequel Funny Lady.
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