Michael Mayer’s production, starring Olivier and BAFTA award-winning actress Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice and with the cast from the Menier Chocolate Factory, will begin performances at the Savoy Theatre on 9 April 2016 for a strictly limited 12-week run until 12 July 2016. Tickets will go on general sale from 10am Monday 16 November.
David Babani, Artistic Director of Menier Chocolate Factory, said today, “We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for Funny Girl – the show broke Menier box office records when it sold out its entire run in just 90 minutes. We felt it was very important to respond to demand so we’re delighted to be joining forces with Sonia Friedman and Scott Landis to give Funny Girl a future life. We want to share it with as wide an audience as possible and to make Michael Mayer’s production as accessible to all, we’re offering £15 day seats – available for every performance at the Savoy Theatre.”
Sonia Friedman and Scott Landis said today, “2016 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the original London production of Funny Girl. It's enormously exciting to be bringing this legendary musical back to the West End for the first time since 1966, in a brand new production starring the incredible Sheridan Smith. We are also thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the hugely gifted, multi-award winning Broadway director Michael Mayer.”
With music by Jule Styne (whose musical Gypsy is currently running at the Savoy Theatre, starring Imelda Staunton), lyrics by Bob Merrill and book by Isobel Lennart, the Broadway smash which skyrocketed Barbra Streisand to stardom, is revived with book revisions by Harvey Fierstein. Sheridan Smith plays Fanny Brice, who rose from being a Brooklyn music hall singer to become one of Broadway's biggest stars under producer Florenz Ziegfeld. While she was cheered onstage as a great comedienne, offstage she faced a doomed relationship with the man she loved. With a score featuring now-classic songs such as "People", "You Are Woman, I Am Man" and "Don't Rain on My Parade", this brand new production promises to be a major theatrical event.
Sheridan Smith returns to the Menier Chocolate Factory to play Fanny Brice. She previously appeared in Little Shop of Horrors for the company (also Duke of York’s Theatre). Her other theatre work includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Michael Grandage Company at the Noel Coward Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Old Vic), Flare Path (Theatre Royal Haymarket – Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress, Evening Standard Theatre Award and Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress), Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre – Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical), Tinderbox (Bush Theatre), The People are Friendly (Royal Court) and Into the Woods (Donmar Warehouse). For television, her credits include Blackwork, The C Word, Cilla, The Widower, The 7.39, Dates, Mr Stink, Mrs Biggs (BAFTA Award for Best Actress), Accused, Scapegoat, Little Crackers, Jonathan Creek, Gavin & Stacey, Larkrise to Candleford, Grown Ups, Love Soup, Two Pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisps, The Royale Family and Wives and Daughters; and for film, The Huntsman, Powder Room, Quartet, Tower Block and Hysteria.
Michael Mayer directs. His West End credits include Spring Awakening (Lyric Hammersmith and Novello Theatre) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (Shaftesbury Theatre). For Broadway his work includes Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Tony Award nomination for Best Director), On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, American Idiot (Drama Desk Award for Best Director of a Musical), Spring Awakening (Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Drama Desk Award for Best Direction of a Musical) and You're a Good Man Charlie Brown (Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Direction of a Musical). For television, his work includes Smash, and for film his credits include A Home at the End of the World, Flicka and currently in post-production, Chekhov's The Seagull.
With the scores of such Broadway classics as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Peter Pan, Bells Are Ringing and Gypsy to his credit, composer Jule Styne ranks as one of the undisputed architects of the American musical theatre. Styne's collaborators included Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Merrill, Leo Robin and E.Y. Harburg, and their combined efforts have produced such showstoppers as "Everything's Coming Up Roses", "The Party's Over", “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, "People" and "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend." He was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981, and became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1990.
Bob Merrill was a composer, lyricist and screenwriter. He partnered with composer Jule Styne to write Funny Girl, Sugar and The Red Shoes. His other stage musicals include New Girl in Town, Take Me Along, Carnival, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Prettybelle, The Prince of Grand Street and Henry, Sweet Henry. In the 1950s, his melodies and words captured the radio audiences with such top-ten standards as “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?”, “Mambo Italiano” and “If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake". Merrill provided lyrics for beloved television musicals including Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood, and The Animated Adventures of Tom Sawyer. His screenplays for Hollywood include Mahogany and W.C. Fields and Me. Merrill also wrote five songs for the 1962 film The Wonderful World of The Brothers Grimm.
As a screenwriter, Isobel Lennart’s first movie was The Affairs of Martha which opened in 1942, followed by A Stranger in Town, and her personal favourite, Lost Angel. Some twenty-five more scripts were made into popular movies over the next thirty years, among them: Two for the Seesaw, the Academy Award nominated Love Me or Leave Me and The Sundowners. Despite her trials and tribulations with the House Un-American Activities Committee, she was never prevented from working. She ventured into playwriting with the stage adaptation of her screenplay Funny Girl for Ray Stark. Several plays were written for her husband’s Los Angeles theatre, The Stage Society. Lennart received many awards and nominations during her career; the 1966 Laurel Award was her most treasured.
Choreography is by Lynne Page, with set design by Michael Pavelka, costume designer by Matthew Wright, lighting design by Mark Henderson and sound designer by Richard Brooker, the musical supervisor is Alan Williams and orchestrations are by Chris Walker.
FUNNY GIRL is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Scott Landis Productions and Chocolate Factory Productions.