A night with the 'Funny Girl'

Many expectations lie in wait with a musical such as "Funny Girl."

The show follows the life of comedienne, singer and actress Fanny Brice from her early days living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the height of her career with the Ziegfeld Follies and on Broadway, including her marriage and divorce from businessman and gambler Nick Arnstein.

Barbra Streisand starred as Brice in the Broadway production of "Funny Girl." The show ran from 1964 to 1967 and received eight Tony Award nominations. In 1969, Streisand earned an Academy Award for best actress in the film version.

Singer and actress Rose Passione plays Brice in Camelot Theatre's production of "Funny Girl," set to open Friday, March 11, and run through April 10.

"Rose is a powerful singer," says Livia Genise, artistic director of Camelot. "If people come in looking for Barbra Streisand, they'll forget about it within five minutes."

Genise says she first met Passione when the singer auditioned for "A Little Night Music" in 2005 at Camelot. It was Passione's first show with the company, but not her last. She's appeared in its productions of "Do I Hear a Waltz?" "Brigadoon," "Doubt" and "The Secret Garden."

Passione also played opposite Mark Ropers, who plays Arnstein in this "Fanny Brice," during last summer's "Rags" at Camelot.

"I told Rose that I would someday do 'Funny Girl' for her," says Genise. "She's the only one I saw as Fanny in this production."

The real Brice built her career on a Yiddish accent and flair for ethnic parody. She delighted audiences for about 40 years. But "Funny Girl" is not as much about Brice's fame as it is about the timeless story of a woman and her man.

The show begins in a backstage dressing room where Brice is struggling to decide if she and her husband have a future together.

Passione says she studied Brice and Arnstein to get a feel for what their relationship must have been like.

"The story is based on real people," says Passione. "So the historical information enriches the experience. It adds a new element.

"The role is a new one for me. It's a challenge because the musical is a popular one, and there's pressure to be what people expect. But I want to make the part something that reflects who I am. There's freedom at Camelot to be myself and make the role my own."

Passione has been performing in musicals since she was old enough to sing, she says. She sang in church when she was 3, sang in grade-school and high-school productions and at George Fox University, where she earned her music degree in 2004.

"Funny Girl" features about two dozen songs, including "People," "I'm the Greatest Star" and "Don't Rain on My Parade," and Passione sings all but four of them.

"Funny Girl" previews Thursday, March 10, at Camelot Theatre. Preview tickets cost $12. A benefit performance for the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon will be presented Wednesday, March 9. Benefit tickets cost $23. A pay-what-you-can performance will be offered Wednesday, March 16, and Director's Night will be Friday, March 18, which includes a post-show reception.

Other tickets cost $23, $21 for students and seniors. Seating may be reserved for an additional $2 per ticket. Student rush tickets cost $10 (cash only) and will be offered five minutes before curtain.

Curtain is set for 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

See www.camelottheatre.org or call 541-535-5250.

Share This Story