A LOOK AT THE WOMAN
BEHIND THE LEGEND
OF FANNY BRICE
October 23, 2009 (Jupiter, FL) - Fanny Brice was not Barbra Streisand.
She was not the woman you saw in Funny Girl and Funny Lady.
So, just who was Fanny Brice?
David Bell explores the life of the star, born Fania Borach, in Fanny Brice: The Real Funny Girl, which has its world premiere production Nov. 10-24 at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. Marya Grandy stars as Brice.
For more than 40 years, the comic actress and singer triumphed wherever she appeared - from vaudeville to variety, burlesque to Broadway, the Ziegfeld Follies to film, and, finally, television.
But life wasn't always fun for Brice.
And it was that aspect of Brice's life that Bell wanted to explore in Fanny Brice: The Real Funny Girl.
"I not only wanted to capture the spirit of one of Broadway's most electrifying stars - I wanted to capture some of the spirit of ballyhoo, creativity, genius and flim-flam that made up the Broadway of that era," Bell said.
"Fanny Brice was such an icon," said Andrew Kato, Artistic Director of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. "I predict this world premiere show will have a life of its own at other regional theatres."
Brice was born in 1891 to immigrant parents in New York City. Her parents were relatively well-to-do saloon owners, not the hard-scrabble people depicted in Funny Girl.
Brice also was married three times, and her second husband, Nicky Arnstein, was a thief who drained Brice financially as he fought charges that eventually sent him to federal prison, not the charming rogue depicted in Funny Girl.
Fanny Brice: The Real Funny Girl is set during the 1930s, shortly after Brice had magnificently appeared as herself in the film The Great Ziegfeld. She was in Hollywood, and her third husband, Billy Rose, hoped to do a follow-up film based on Brice's life.
In many ways, they were an unlikely couple - the Broadway star who created such hits as My Man, Secondhand Rose and Rose of Washington Square, and the energetic song writer - and anything-for-a-buck producer - but the team worked - for a while.
Around that time, Brice created what was perhaps her best known character, Baby Snooks. Never mind that she was in her mid-40s, Brice took on the persona of the impish toddler, even dressing in toddler garb to perform before her radio studio audience.
"Snooks is just the kid I used to be. She's my kind of youngster, the type I like. She has imagination. She's eager. She's alive. With all her deviltry, she is still a good kid, never vicious or mean," Brice told biographer Norman Katkov. "I love Snooks, and when I play her I do it as seriously as if she were real. I am Snooks. For 20 minutes or so, Fanny Brice ceases to exist."
Baby Snooks was a character who survived into the days of early television, and by the time Brice died in 1951 of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 59, each was an American icon.
Marya Grandy, most recently seen at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Smokey Joe's Café, captures the look and spirit of Brice, from her striking vocals on such vaudeville show-stoppers as My Man to her sly take on the irrepressible Baby Snooks.
"Fanny's story is the story of so many Americans at the turn of the last century - immigrant family, limited means, boundless ambition, luck, dedication, perseverance and success," says Bell. "It is the story of the American Dream - Fanny was there through it all."
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is an award-winning professional not-for-profit regional theatre dedicated to the performing arts whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire our community. The Theatre is a member of the prestigious League of Resident Theatres and is located east of U.S. Highway 1 at 1001 East Indiantown Road and State Road A1A in Jupiter.
Scott Simmons (561) 743-2666, Ext. 132
1001 East Indiantown Road, Jupiter, FL 33477