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Tickets for the first ever London revival of the hit 1964 musical Funny Girl starring Sheridan Smith in the role of 'Fanny Brice' are now on sale for performances at the Savoy Theatre from 9 April 2016.
The production, which begins previews at the Menier Chocolate Factory on 20 November 2015, sold out its full run at the Southwark venue in just 90 minutes. The combination of being one of the most anticipated revivals of recent years, and the return to the stage of double Olivier Award-winner Sheridan Smith OBE made this the fastest selling production in the venue's history.
Featuring a score by Jule Styne (Gypsy) and Bob Merrill the musical has an original book by Isobel Lennart, which has been reinvented by Broadway actor and writer Harvey Fierstein. No stranger to musical theatre, Fierstein has supplied the books for new musicals such as 'Kinky Boots' and 'Newsies', and has won numerous Tony Awards for his work on and off stage.
The story of Broadway entertainer and comedian Fanny Brice delighted audiences when it originally opened in New York in 1964. The original production starred Barbra Streisand, who went on to star in the London production at the Prince of Wales Theatre as well as the film of the same name.
Whilst Streisand certainly casts a long shadow on the production, Smith is a natural comedian and a proven musical theatre star. Her Olivier Award-winning performance as Elle Woods in 'Legally Blonde the Musical' helped the show achieve greater success in the UK than on Broadway. Despite shooting to fame in TV comedy sitcoms such as 'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps' and 'Gavin & Stacey', Smith's background is firmly in musical theatre. She starred in London productions of 'Bugsy Malone' and 'Into the Woods', and has previously starred at the Menier Chocolate Factory in their successful production of Little Shop of Horrors which went on to transfer to the West End.
Funny Girl charts Fanny Brice's rise to fame and her troubled relationship with Nicky Arnstein, who in this production will be played by Darius Campbell. Told through flashback as she awaits her husband's release from prison, Fanny looks back on her life as a young performer being told she wouldn't succeed by her own mother. After breaking into Vaudeville, she meets Arnstein, and the pair attempt to make money through investments, which leads to Nicky's downfall.
The musical is fondly remembered thanks to the foot-tapping score by Jule Styne, whose earlier hit musical 'Gypsy' is about to conclude its run also at the Savoy Theatre. With a string of tunes such as "People", "The Greatest Star", "Cornet Man" and of course, the epic Act Break anthem "Don't Rain on My Parade", the songs have transcended the life of the show, and have become standards in their own right.
Along with an incredible cast of West End regulars, this new production features direction by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer, whose previous work includes 'Spring Awakening' and 'Thoroughly Modern Millie'. Choreography is by Lynne Page with scenic design by Michael Pavelka. The challenges of presenting a musical in both the intimate confines of the Menier Chocolate Factory as well as the Savoy Theatre will mean the show continues to develop throughout the next sixth months, meaning even those lucky enough to have a ticket for the original run will want to revisit the show at the Savoy to track how it has developed and changed.
Whether the production has its sights on Broadway is not yet known. The Menier Chocolate Factory certainly have a track record of providing hit transfers - their previous productions of 'Sunday in the Park With George', 'A Little Night Music' and 'La Cage aux Folles' have all made the leap across the Atlantic, and their 2013 hit revival of 'The Color Purple' has just begun previews on Broadway featuring London based star Cynthia Erivo opposite Jennifer Hudson.
Regardless of the future of the production, one thing for sure is that Funny Girl is already set to be the biggest hit of this season. Make sure you have your ticket to the new run at the Savoy Theatre and don't let anyone bring around a cloud to rain on your parade...