Funny Girl star Julie Benko's story is the stuff of movies. Originally hired as a standby to star Beanie Feldstein, Benko's performance as Fanny Brice made waves when she filled in for an ailing Feldstein early in the run, going on to take over the role full time following Feldstein's departure. Glee star Lea Michele is set to lead the revival beginning September 6, but Benko is staying with the company—and is gaining a weekly guaranteed performance each Thursday.
See Benko talk to CBS Mornings about her journey from standby to Broadway star above. Funny Girl continues its run at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre.
Funny Girl, which premiered on Broadway in 1964, features a score by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill and a book by Isobel Lennart, newly adapted by Tony winner Harvey Fierstein for this revival. The original production propelled a young Barbra Streisand to international fame; she would reprise her stage performance in the 1968 film adaptation, winning an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in the process. The score introduced such standards as "I'm the Greatest Star," "People," "Don't Rain On My Parade," and "The Music That Makes Me Dance."
In addition to Benko, Funny Girl stars Liz McCartney as Mrs. Brice (with Tovah Feldshuh set to take over in the role beginning September 6), Ramin Karimloo as Nick Arnstein, and Tony nominee Jared Grimes as Eddie Ryan, alongside Peter Francis James as Florenz Ziegfeld, Ephie Aardema as Mrs. Nadler, Debra Cardona as Mrs. Meeker, Toni DiBuono as Mrs. Strakosh, and Martin Moran as Tom Keeney.
The ensemble features Amber Ardolino, Daniel Beeman, Kurt Csolak, Leslie Donna Flesner, Afra Hines, Masumi Iwai, Aliah James, Stephen Mark Lukas, John Thomas Manzari, Katie Mitchell, Justin Prescott, Mariah Reives, and Leslie Blake Walker. Rounding out the company are standbys Julie Benko, Liz McCartney and Jeremiah James and swings Miriam Ali, Colin Bradbury, John Michael Fiumara, Danielle Kelsey, Alicia Lundgren, and Conor McRory.
The production is directed by Michael Mayer, who leads a creative team that includes choreography by Ellenore Scott, tap choreography by Ayodele Casel, music supervision and direction by Michael Rafter, scenic design by David Zinn, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Kevin Adams, sound design by Brian Ronan, and hair design by Campbell Young Associates. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Jason Thinger.
The production also includes orchestrations by Chris Walker; dance, vocal, and incidental music arrangements by Alan Williams; additional arrangements by Carmel Dean and David Dabbon; music coordination by Seymour Red Press and Kimberlee Wertz; and vocal supervision by Liz Caplan.