Out of Town Tryouts
263-265 Tremont Street
January 13, 1964 — February 1, 1964
1114 Walnut Street
February 4, 1964 — February 22, 1964
21st and Market Street
February 24 — March 7, 1964
“In the days when professional producers produced shows ... they understood that a play was a work in progress until it got to a certain state of maturity. And the way to do it was first you took the play out of town and you honed the play in front of audiences eight times a week until, finally, the producer felt ‘This is ready for Broadway,’” explained theater historian Miles Kreuger.
This “Out of Town” process was where new scenes were written, songs and dialogue were added or subtracted, and where actors were replaced.
In the 1960’s Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston and New Haven were typical “Out of Town” cities.
After initial rehearsals in New York, Funny Girl “tried out” in Boston and in two different theaters in Philadelphia in the Winter of 1964.
Boston & Philadelphia Tryouts
Funny Girl producer Ray Stark and director Garson Kanin opened the show during a snow storm in Boston on January 13, 1964. It received the following review:
Funny Girl Needs More Activity
I can only guess but I'd swear that every Barbra Streisand fan in existence showed up via dog-sled, skis, and snowshoes for the opening night of the new musical, “Funny Girl” last night at the Shubert [in Boston]. And I hope that when they hand out medals for valor that someone will recall that I, too, braved the blizzard to attend this Brondwaybound vehicle. In case you are wondering, every seat in the theater was taken last night.
"Funny Girl” is the biography of the late Fanny Brice. It will be in Boston for a three week tryout then on to Philadelphia for a final three weeks of work. As of last night's opening, it will need every bit of time it can get. It is in rough shape and needs plenty of help.
...Like Miss Garland, Miss Streisand is not without her cult of worshippers and they cheered and whistled at her every move last night. One might have concluded that the producers would have been better off to sell the costumes and scenery, disband the supporting players, and give the audience a three hour concert of Miss Streisand.
The music is a major disappointment. Jule Styne has been able to score with only one ballad, “People Who Need People.” He and lyricist, Bob Merrill, have given the star two powerpacked numbers,“I'm the Greatest Star” and “Don't Rain On My Parade,” which will electrify the Streisand following. But the score is generally banal.
...There are a few good scenes and if the plot can be sharpened and cut, the three hour running time should be curtailed. At the moment, “Funny Girl,” has troubles, but it also has Barbra Streisand and maybe she will be able to carry the show into the hit category in New York. If last night's cheering section were polled, I'm sure they would shout a resounding “yes.” I was not that convinced.
By William E. Sarmento, The Lowell Sun. January 14, 1964.
Below is the list of scenes and musical numbers from the Jan. 13, 1964 Boston Shubert Theater Playbill. The songs in the first act are very similar to the final show; the second act had different songs and structure at this point.
Boston Globe reviewer Kevin Kelly wrote on January 19th that “the book's real trouble begins when Miss Lennart introduces the cardboard Casanova known as Nick Arnstein...”
The show was still being developed this early in the out-of-town run. “At least two songs sadly miss their mark (an echo-chamber duet called ‘It's Home,’ which tries to find homely humor in a Long Island mansion, and a lullaby sung by Chaplin that would embarrass any baby) ...”
Jule Styne told writer Donald Zec that, while in Boston, “We had the dénouement with the trial, the lawyers, the whole thing, even a scene in a hospital. That way the second act came on stronger because we showed Nicky's shortcomings, but Fran Stark did not want us to present her father in that light. We lost five songs that way, including a very moving lullaby Arnstein sings to his baby daughter. After a couple of tries the second act songs for Nicky Arnstein had to be discarded. I don't regret the loss because Chaplin couldn't sing them.”
Variety wrote, after the January 21st show: “Funny Girl [ ... ] got a brand new second act last Thursday and two truckloads of scenery, edited out, were shipped to the warehouse. The company is rehearsing practically 'round the clock and many changes are being made.”
Kelly reviewed the Boston Funny Girl once again on January 31st. Still praising Streisand's performance, he again faulted the play's second act. “The two new numbers (‘Find Yourself a Man,’ ‘Something About Me’) are both comedy songs, but the latter is an infantile production episode featuring statuesque Follies girls as babies among a lonely boy baby. It's in poor taste and humorless.”
Sarmento returned to check on Funny Girl's progress three weeks later before the company moved to the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia. In Sarmento's next column, he detailed the show's progress:
...I regret to report that “Funny Girl” is little better than it was the first time. As has been reported in most of the trade papers, “Funny Girl” has a new second act put in during the Boston run in addition to three new songs. But the songs merely camouflage what is painfully obvious, that “Funny Girl” is trapped into telling the story of Fanny Brice and Nick Arnstein. A story, which was written for the stage by Isobel Lennart, is filled with conventional tripe and low-grade sentimentality that once flourished in those movie musicals of the forties.
As Fanny Brice, Miss Streisand gets better with each performance. She is much more at ease now than at the outset of the engagement and has gotten more into the comical aspects of the character. She still ignites the stage when she sings and does her best to make the plot seem interesting...Without Ms. Streisand, “Funny Girl” would be a genuine disaster; with her it is more of a disappointment.
I shall never understand why one of the new songs, “Come Along With Me,” was given to Sidney Chaplin, who makes every note sound like he needed to gargle. He still plays Arnstein with the same flare as if the character had been cut from cardboard.
Kay Medford's portrayal of the mother is funny if you haven't seen her do a similar routine in “Bye Bye Birdie”. She has one of the new songs, “Find Yourself a Man” which is amusing. Miss Streisand has been given another comedy number, “Something About Me,” in which she cavorts as the only boy baby in a girl infested nursery. It's cute but not sensational.
...The “Rat-Tat-Tat” number now has Miss Streisand as a Jewish doughboy instead of a German Kaiser. They may love this in New York, but it hardly peps up a basically corny routine.
By William E. Sarmento, The Lowell Sun. February 3, 1964.
Director Jerome Robbins rejoined the Funny Girl company in Philadelphia, replacing director Garson Kanin. “I considered that I had been fired,” Garson Kanin said. “I did not desert the company entirely, but I withdrew and Jerry took over. The final credit ‘Directed by Garson Kanin—Production Supervised by Jerome Robbins’ was as confusing to me as it was to everyone else.”
Photo, below right: Jule Styne and Jerome Robbins are reunited backstage at a 1988 event.
It was during out-of-town-tryouts that Robbins staged Streisand's intitial entrance with two wolfhounds on a leash. Streisand was supposed to stop center stage with the dogs, but they never hit their mark. Royce Wallace [who played “Emma” the maid] recalled, “The idea was good, but the dogs didn't know they were supposed to stop when she stopped. They took 'em right out after that, we said, now let's get on with the show.”
Other contributions from Robbins included many choreography notes for Carol Haney—he eventually fired her in New York. Robbins deemed “Cornet Man” to be too professionally danced for a second-rate vaudeville show; he asked Haney to re-do “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” several times; and he pronounced the dancing in “Henry Street” to be too splashy for a New York neighborhood party. For “You Are Woman, I Am Man,” Robbins suggested Streisand's comedic countermelody to Nick Arnstein's seduction. Robbins’ biggest contribution to getting Funny Girl on track was to pare down the story (including Sydney Chaplin's role as Arnstein) and highlight Streisand.
Robbins said Streisand was “an untiring, tenacious worker” at rehearsal. He expanded on that by explaining “At rehearsals, she often arrives late, haphazardly dressed in no-nonsense clothes, her hair shoved up under a cap. She accepts the twelve pages of new material to go in that evening's performance and pores over them while schnorring part of your sandwich and someone else's Coke. She reads, and, like an instantaneous translator, she calculates how all the myriad changes will affect the emotional and physical patterns, blocking, costumes, exits and entrances, etc. When she finishes reading, her reactions are immediate and violent—loving or hating them—and she will not change her mind. Not that day.”
Styne & Merrill’s ‘Trunk’ Songs
Jule Styne composed many songs for Funny Girl that were discarded as its book changed. Styne's biographer Theodore Taylor wrote that Styne created 56 separate pieces for the show.
In a 1977 interview, Styne explained, “I wrote the music for Barbra but they had already signed Anne Bancroft to play Fanny Brice. I wondered how I was going to get this little girl who was singing down in the Village in the show when they already had Anne Bancroft. So I wrote the toughest score. Only Barbra could sing it.”
Ultimately, Funny Girl opened and was “frozen” with some fifteen songs, instrumental interludes between scenes, and dance music arranged by Luther Henderson.
Here's a list of the cut songs from Funny Girl and what we know about them (or not). In theatrical lore, these songs are known as “trunk songs”. (Barbra Archives culled this information from articles and Playbills that listed the cut songs.)
You can listen to excerpts of the songs on the player below:
The Funny Girl Promotional Singles
“People”/ “I Am Woman”
“Absent Minded Me” / “Funny Girl”
The Funny Girl Original Cast Album was released on Capitol Records. Over at her own label, Columbia, Streisand recorded several songs from the score as promotional singles. The tracks were arranged and conducted by Peter Matz. “People's” fate was still being decided when it was released as a single in January 1964. It's said that Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse and Garson Kanin all wanted to cut the song from the show. But the single helped—“People” was beloved by audiences who heard it on the radio. The rest, of course, is history.
“I Am Woman” was the flip side of “People”. It's the same tune as “You Are Woman, I Am Man” from the show. However, the lyrics were changed to the female point-of-view so Barbra could sing it solo as a single.
“Funny Girl” is not the movie song. The 1964 single is an up-tempo song, not a ballad like the film song with the same title. It's possible the “Funny Girl” single was never used in the show. Instead, it was a catchy tune that utilized the show's title in order to advertise it on the radio.
“Who Are You Now?” and “Cornet Man” were recorded as singles but not released.
“I Did It On Roller Skates”
An out-of-town song, cut. The number, staged with Fanny on roller skates, inspired the Funny Girl logo. Writer Isobel Lennart would resurrect the roller skate concept (with a different song) for the film.
In a 1964 interview, right before beginning rehearsals, Barbra said, “I'll be singing, dancing, and roller skating. There's one number that goes, 'I Did It on Roller Skates and I Can't Wait to Do It on Skis.' Gee, I haven't roller skated in years ...”
“Block Party”, “A Helluva Group” & “Downtown Rag”
It took a few tries to get “Henry Street”, the song in which Fanny's family and friends celebrate her Ziegfeld success, right.
In Boston, a song called “A Helluva Group” was in that spot. It was an ensemble number, with the lyric favoring Mrs. Brice. It was also called “My Daughter, Fanny, The Star!” and “We're a Significant Group”.
In February 1964 at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia,“A Helluva Group” was replaced by “Block Party”.
In March 1964 at the Erlanger Theatre (Philadelphia), the cast sang “Downtown Rag”.
All three songs would eventually be replaced with “Henry Street”. (“No, it ain't Broadway, it's Henry Street.”)
“A Temporary Arrangement” & “Racing Form Lullaby”
Two Nicky Arnstein songs that were cut. “Temporary Arrangement” was a soft-shoe dance number with the character “Snub Taylor” and lasted only one performance since Sydney Chaplin could not dance. “Temporary Arrangement” was listed in the January 20, 1964 Playbill — the first pre-Broadway, out-of town run of Funny Girl at the Shubert Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts. “Temporary Arrangement” was resuscitated for the film (and sung by Omar Shariff), but cut again.
“Took Me A Little Time”
This song stayed in the show for at least a week at Boston's Shubert Theatre, as it was listed in both the January 20th and January 27th Playbills. Most likely, it was an earlier version of the sentiment expressed in “Who Are You Now?”
“Something About Me”
“Something About Me” was the infamous baby song. Funny Girl's temporary book writer, John Patrick told Rene Jordan: “[Ray] Stark started to spend money lavishly on quite tasteless things. There was a number in which the chorus girls dressed as babies and spread out in a line on their backs. Then Barbra, dressed in diapers, sang something called, I think, 'How Do You Tell Little Boys from Little Girls?' The number opened and closed in one night at a cost of some ten thousand dollars in discarded costumes, scenery, and orchestrations.”
Director Garson Kanin told Rene Jordan that “it was sabotaged by those who hated it ... They never came up with the right look for the number.”
Lainie Kazan (Streisand's understudy) remembered: “It was so embarrassing that we would just die. We did the number on closing night in Boston. The next thing I know, [choreographer] Carol [Haney] is fired and Jerry Robbins is there.”
Above: The company of Funny Girl in rehearsal. Left to right: Danny Meehan, Allyn Ann McLerie, Sydney Chaplin, Streisand. Director Garson Kanin is standing.
“Baltimore” / “Baltimore Sun”
Isobel Lennart wrote a character named “Nora” who was one of the showgirls and sang this song. In “Baltimore Sun”, the Ziegfeld girls lament arriving in Baltimore (“When the birds fly south to the Swanee star, they relieve themselves over Bal-ti-mar...”)
According to Edwards' Streisand biography, the song was shifted to Barbra, then cut altogether.
“Baltimore” was also Jule Styne's original demo record, prior to the show's rehearsals.
By the way, Lennart wrote a character named “Georgia” in the film version of Funny Girl (Anne Francis was cast) who played as an older foil to young, brash Fanny. That role was edited out considerably as well.
In Jule Styne's biography (Jule: The Story of Composer Jule Styne) Theodore Taylor wrote that “I Tried” was a Second Act climax song for Streisand meant to replace “People” as the big song in the show. She did not like it, and the songwriting team used a reprise of “Don't Rain on My Parade” for the finale instead.
“He” & “Do Puppies Go To Heaven?”
Two comic numbers for Barbra ... both cut.
In “He,” Fanny complains to friends that, when getting ready for a dinner engagement, Nicky always monopolizes the bathroom.
On the 1964 demo, Bob Merrill describes “Puppies” as being sung by Fanny during a rehearsal for the Ziefeld Follies. Fanny, dressed in her Baby Snooks costume, is rehearsing on a toy piano with a puppy on it.
“Larceny in His Heart” & “When I Talk About You”
David Foil wrote that Bob Merrill contributed lyrics to five Funny Girl songs in only three days. “When I Talk About You” — probably a song meant for the character of Eddie to sing — was one of them that ultimately was dropped.
“Larceny” was on Jule Styne's original demo. On the 1964 demo, Bob Merrill stated that Larceny was sung by “Branca and a few of his henchmen”.
“Home” / “It's Home”
“Home” was the first song in Act II, performed at the Arnstein house. The song was listed in March 1964 Erlanger Theater playbill. Fanny and Nicky sang the first chorus — each line of the song echoes back to them because their new home is so large, the sound reverberates; their guests sang the rest of the song. “Home” was cut in favor of “Sadie, Sadie”.
Have I Got A Secret
This song was originally placed in the ninth scene of the second act. It was a big chorus number sung in three parts in which Nick's legal troubles were discussed by the folks in Fanny's neighborhood.
The opening of the song took place on Henry Street. The women sing, “I couldn't tell you, a secret's a secret, so don't even ask me...” Then, in the third part, they can't hold the secret any longer and spill the beans when they sing: “Have you read a paper? For your sake don't read it. It says in the paper Arnstein convicted...”
“Sleep Now, Baby Bunting”
A sweet lullaby sung by Nick to his baby in the cradle. It ends bitterly when Nick refers to himself as “Mr. Fanny Brice.” This song was sung in the first pre-Broadway, out-of town run of Funny Girl at the Shubert Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts.
In 2002, for The Second Annual Benefit Concert for The Actors' Fund, Peter Gallagher portrayed Nick and sang Larry Blank's orchestration of “Sleep Now, Baby Bunting”.
“I'd Be Good For Her” & “Eddie's Fifth Encore”
“I'd Be Good For Her” was sung by Fanny's friend, Eddie Ryan. The actor who portrayed him on stage, Lee Allen, explained: “It's an embarrassing moment for Eddie. Fanny's mother is using him as a model, and he's got this dress on. He's standing up on a chair, and she is pinning him up. Fanny walks in on the scene, and she treats him like an ordinary guy. She doesn't realize how badly he feels about her. He just sits down on that same chair that he's been standing on, in that ridiculous dress, and he starts to sing the song. The title says it all.”
“I'd Be Good For Her” appeared in the Philadelphia try-out of Funny Girl.
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