Behind the Laughs Lies Incredible Skill

Katerina McCrimmon as Fanny Brice in the National Tour of “Funny Girl”
CREDIT: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.jpg

Revival of Funny Girl Taps into Belk Theater Oct. 17-22

“The choreography in this show is the most challenging, most difficult choreography I have ever done in a musical theater show.”
Bryan Charles Moore
, dance captain and performer

“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!”

If you’ve never seen the musical Funny Girl, chances are you’ve heard the plucky lyrics above from Don’t Rain on My Parade. The original version was sung by Barbara Streisand, who originated the lead role of Fanny Brice on Broadway in 1964 and on-screen in 1968.  (Or, perhaps you heard them sung by Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfirewhich, incidentally, is headed to the Belk Theater next April.

Now, you get the opportunity to be among the luckiest people in the world, seeing the current Broadway revival of Funny Girl when it bursts onto the Belk Theater stage October 17-22. Tickets are on sale now.

Set in New York City in the wake of World War I, Funny Girl traces Fanny’s journey from the Lower East Side to the bright lights of Broadway … and the highs and lows along her improbable rise to stardom.

Along the way, audiences will experience one of the most celebrated musical scores of all time by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, featuring classics such as I’m the Greatest Star and People. Actor/playwright/screenwriter Harvey Fierstein (speaking of Mrs. Doubtfire – the gravelly voiced actor co-starred in the movie version) has updated the original book by Isobel Lennart. The show is directed by Michael Mayer

First National Touring Company of “Funny Girl”
CREDIT: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Dancing straight into your heart

Funny Girl has been described as a love letter to theater, especially classic vaudeville like the Ziegfeld Follies. While it may be well-known for its songs, this revival punctuates the score with powerful tap choreography by Ayodele Casel and choreography by Ellenore Scott.

“The choreography in this show is the most challenging, most difficult choreography I have ever done in a musical theater show,” said Bryan Charles Moore, dance captain and performer. 

Moore says that, after a 17-year career dancing professionally, Funny Girl has taken him, and the dancers he works with, to new places. 

“Ellenore [Scott] has a very lovely way of allowing the ensemble members to retain their individuality within the choreography and within the rest of the movement without taking away from it being an ensemble,” he said. “So, you get the joy of watching a group of 14 dancers dancing together, but you also see Kate dancing, you see Jackson dancing, you see Rodney dancing. You see them as people, which, as dancers, you don’t often get.

“It is a very beautiful feeling when you get to actually express yourself, and it shows when you’re watching it in the audience.”

We chatted with Moore, who was a high school figure skating phenom on track to be in the Olympics before fully embracing dance and choreography in college.

Bryan Charles Moore

What can audiences expect from Funny Girl? It sounds like the dance routines are fairly intense show when it comes to the dance routines.

There are musicals where you go in and sit in a theater for two-and-a-half hours and you see huge dance numbers. Then it slows down … and then you see another huge dance number. 

Funny Girl is a beautiful show in that the pacing makes it seem like you’re in the theater for maybe 90 minutes. It’s a long show … but it all moves so seamlessly and so smartly that you don’t feel like you’ve just been sitting in a theater. You’re just constantly moving with it. 

The original revival on Broadway had lots of moving sets. But you’re not able to bring those on the road. How did you adjust for the touring show?

Our choreographers and directors had to completely rethink everything, and that ended up becoming the creation of these choreographed scene changes. [We’ve added] an extra element where dance is sort of becoming the throughline of the show and the connection between the scenes has become dance, as well. 

First National Touring Company of “Funny Girl”
CREDIT: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

How does this show make you feel?

[B]eing the dance captain, I have the opportunity to be in the audience quite often. It is part of my job to watch the show and to notate – to make sure that it is in the same shape six months from now that it was the very first show that we did in Providence. 

Even after seeing it as many times as I have, I still go through a full range of emotions. The jokes are still funny to me. 

Katerina McCrimmon (who plays Fanny) is just out of this world. I can still sit and watch her and laugh at every little thing that she does and says and sob when she gets to the end of the show …

To feel that and to feel that with the other audience members is incredibly special. 

Bryan Charles Moore in costume.

Final question: Has your time in Funny Girl increased your appreciation for both plaid and mustaches? (See above photo of Moore in costume.)

I mean, I am from Minnesota. I lived my life in flannels and plaid. So I will always have the appreciation. I dream of doing shows with facial hair. I hate shaving. And, I happen to look very good with a mustache, in my own opinion.

You look quite dapper, sir. See you on stage.

 

“Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” You’ve Got to See That! 

Tickets are still available for Funny Girl, playing the Blumenthal Performing Arts’ Belk Theater Oct. 17 through 22. If you don’t, we guarantee someone will rain on your parade. Tickets start at $30. Click here to purchase tickets. Showtimes are:  

  • Oct. 17 to 19 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 20 at 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 21 at 2 and 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 22 at 1:30 and 7 p.m.

 

This Biscuit was sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts. A portion of this sponsorship will help fund a Helpful Unfettered Gift (H.U.G.) micro-grant awarded to a Charlotte-based creative.