Funny Girl on Broadway

Opening Night

Newspaper with Funny Girl opening photo

Streisand clipping

(Clippings above scanned by Joe Petrollese, from his collection.)

Funny Girl opened March 26, 1964 at the Winter Garden Theatre. Wearing a smart oriental-style silk top, Streisand greeted press and celebrities backstage after the show in her dressing room.

Pictured below: Streisand met with members of Fanny Brice's family. They are, left to right, Lew Brice, Fanny's brother; Streisand; Mrs. Ray Stark, Fanny Brice's daughter Fran, and the comedienne's son William Brice.

Below: Barbra Streisand posed with Ethel Merman backstage after the show.

Streisand and Ethel Merman pose together

Producer Ray Stark had arranged for a big opening night party at the Rainbow Room (on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City). Dinner, dancing and a live orchestra helped give the room a celebratory spirit.

Streisand belts out a smash Elliott Gould and Streisand kiss on opening night

Very few of the evening-gowned and dinner-jacketed celebrities who raised champagne glasses to new star Barbra Streisand when she swung into the Rainbow Room the other morning knew that she was a waitress not long ago in a Brooklyn Chinese restaurant.

"Yes, it was a Choy's Orient on Nostrand Ave. in Flatbush," Barbra told me in the Winter Garden's plush star's dressing room after Funny Girl opened. "It was a part-time job between my 12th and 16th birthdays. I started out babysitting for them and worked up to waitress and cashier.

"You want to hear me order? Well, there's humbau—that's Chinese hamburger. And char all bow, and sill moi, and ha gow …

"And I used to be an usherette so I could see the shows. I saw Sound of Music four times. That was only four years ago.

"I used to put my hand up to my face and turn aside when I led people down the aisle. I was thinking, 'This could be embarressing. One day I'll be a star and people will be remembering, 'This girl once showed me to my seat.'"

Exactly that has now happened—Ethel Merman, Lauren Bacall, Jason Robards and others pronounced her the greatest gal to hit B'way since the Fanny Brice she portrays. And Sophie Tucker even said:

Robards and Bacall walk into Winter Garden Theatre

"She's exactly like Fanny Brice … she has the mannerisms … she even looks like her … and she never saw her … she's a natural … she can also make you laugh and cry just like Fanny could. What a star!"

One immediate gag was that Barbra's such a big star she may take another A out of her name.

"Did you take that A out of her name?" I asked her mother, Diana Streisand, of Flatbush, at the great party atop the RCA Bldg. overlooking the lights of the city her 21-year-old daughter has just captured.

"She left it out—I didn't," her mother said. "She's a riot, always was. She had a 93 average in school but always seemed to do the wrong thing … till now."

Barbra and her husband, actor Elliott Gould, rushed up to her mother. "Mama! You didn't bring chicken soup!" she exclaimed, embracing her … "To the Rockefellers' nice building?" her mother said.

A San Francisco restaurateur Willie Tsang has told me of Barbra speaking Chinese out there and speaking pretty good Chinese. "How is her Chinese accent?" I asked him. "Brooklyn Chinese," he said, and added, "Funny girl …"

Funny Girl Broadway poster

Above: Funny Girl poster; Ray Stark poses with Streisand on opening night.

Opening Night Photos

Stark, Streisand, and Robbins pose

ABOVE LEFT: Lauren Bacall and Jason Robards pose with Streisand at the Rainbow Room; ABOVE RIGHT: Ray Stark, Streisand, and Jerome Robbins pose at opening night party. PHOTO BELOW: Streisand laughs alongside Billy Rose—James Caan will play Rose in the Funny Girl movie sequel Funny Lady ten years later. (Opening night photos: Henry Grossman)

Streisand and Billy Rose

PHOTO BELOW: Left to right: producer Ray Stark, author Isobel Lennart, Streisand, composer Jule Styne, production supervisor Jerome Robbins, and lyricist Bob Merrill.

Entire Funny Girl creative crew

BELOW: A telegram from Jule Styne to Barbra Streisand on her opening night.

Jule Styne telegram

PHOTO BELOW: Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury and Sophie Tucker were among the opening night celebs who attended. Scanned by Joe Petrollese, from his collection.

Newspaper photos of Funny Girl opening night

The 1964/65 World's Fair was held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the borough of Queens. Funny Girl was featured in a “World's Fair Edition” of a Broadway magazine. (Scans below courtesy of Peter Curl, from his collection).

Broadway Magazine cover and Funny Girl ad Broadway Magazine with photos from Funny Girl

Funny Girl Broadway Credits


1964 Cast (In Order of Appearance)

Final Funny Girl running order:

Act I Act II
"Overture" – Orchestra "Entr'acte" – Orchestra
"If a Girl Isn't Pretty" – Mrs. Strakosh, Mrs. Brice, Eddie Ryan and People "Sadie, Sadie" – Fanny Brice and Friends
"I'm the Greatest Star" – Fanny Brice "Find Yourself a Man" – Mrs. Strakosh, Mrs. Brice and Eddie Ryan
"Cornet Man" – Fanny Brice, Snub Taylor and Keeney Chorus "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" – Ziegfeld Company and Fanny Brice
"Who Taught Her Everything?" – Mrs. Brice and Eddie Ryan "Who Are You Now?" – Fanny Brice
"His Love Makes Me Beautiful" – Ziegfeld Tenor, Ziegfeld Girls and Fanny Brice "The Music That Makes Me Dance" – Fanny Brice
"I Want to Be Seen With You Tonight" – Nick Arnstein and Fanny Brice "Don't Rain on My Parade" (Reprise) – Fanny Brice
"Henry Street" – Henry Street Neighbors  
"People" – Fanny Brice  
"You Are Woman, I Am Man" – Nick Arnstein and Fanny Brice  
"Don't Rain on My Parade" – Fanny Brice  

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