The Show vs. The Movie
Although the 1968 film preserved Funny Girl forever cinematically, many Streisand fans who were not around in New York circa 1964-65 are unfamiliar with the live, Broadway version of Funny Girl. The film is very similar to the show ... but it also changed and added several songs, characters, and scenes.
The only existing record of the Broadway show is the Capitol Records Original Broadway Cast recording. Unfortunately, Streisand never performed excerpts from her hit show on the Ed Sullivan Show, as was popular in the day.
The Funny Girl show has been documented for posterity, however: there are photos of Streisand and cast on stage at the Winter Garden; Random House published the Broadway script by Isobel Lennart in 1964 — which contained the dialogue, lyrics, and stage directions (ISBN 0394405811); home movies were taken of the cast performing on stage by one of the Funny Girl dancers; and, reportedly, three audio recordings of the live stage show exist: closing night, a show from early in the run, and a London show. On those recordings, one can hear the complete show with dialogue and songs as well as the orchestral arrangements (which differed from the cast recording).
Barbra Archives thought it would be interesting to compare the stage play of Funny Girl to the film version and see where they differ. The sections & songs below are in order the way they appear in the story, from beginning to end.
“If A Girl Isn't Pretty”
On Broadway: The song starts during the poker game at Fanny's house, is continued by Eddie at Keeney's Music Hall, and is finished as Eddie, the poker ladies, and, seemingly, everybody else in New York, sings to Fanny to “go get a job” because she's not pretty.
On Film: The poker ladies and Mrs. Brice sing only a couple of verses, then Fanny leaves.
“I'm the Greatest Star”
On Broadway: sung to Eddie Ryan.
On Film: sung to Mr. Keeney and Eddie Ryan; then alone in the theater.
“Cornet Man” vs. “Roller Skate Rag / I'd Rather Be Blue”
Fanny's debut was handled the same way on both Broadway and film: She sabotages the song at Keeney's, but ends up being the star.
On Broadway: “Cornet Man” is a jazzy, show-stopping song. The live recording reveals that, as performed, it's quite funny. Fanny tries to keep up with the dancers, seems a bit uncertain and wobbly, then ends up with a strong, belting finish.
On Film: Fanny sabotages the roller skate number, then gets to shine with her own solo number (and Billy Rose song) "I'd Rather Be Blue."
On Broadway: Sung six times with more lyrics; sung as Eddie tries to ask Fanny on a date.
On Film: Director William Wyler employs a freeze-frame film technique and utilizes only three "Nicky Arnstein's" to reveal Fanny's crush.
“Who Taught Her Everything?”
On Broadway: “Who Taught Her Everything She Knows?”, a comedic song , was sung after Fanny received the telegram from Ziegfeld. Mrs. Brice and Eddie lamented how they'd be forgotten when Fanny became a star. Besides advancing their characters, the song was also utilitarian: it gave Streisand time to change into her Ziegfeld costume.
On Film: Not used. However, the number was filmed (and cut).
“Second Hand Rose”
On Broadway: Fanny entered, already cast in the Follies, and argued with Ziegfeld.
On Film: Fanny auditioned for the Follies by singing some of “Second Hand Rose” (written by G. Clarke & J.F. Hanley—not J. Styne). Fanny was offered the part, then argued with Ziegfeld.
“His Love Makes Me Beautiful”
The song served the same dramatic purpose in both the film and Broadway show: Fanny's big debut in which she became a star. Musically, the song on Broadway is very similar to the film version.
On Broadway: Fanny sets up the scene change when she sings “...Wait till he meets in person / For one night only / Mrs. Strakosh and the Henry Street Gypsies / I'll never see him again!”
On Broadway: The stage directions in the script described: “the entire stage is decorated for a block party—colored lanterns are strung between the buildings...All the neighbors and guests are singing and dancing in celebration.”
On Film: Director William Wyler used film techniques to dramatize the celebration, foreshadow Nick's gambling, and introduce the supporting character, Sadie. “Henry Street” was cut from the film, however, you can hear the melody playing in the background during the party scene. Fanny and Nick dance to the tune.
“People” & “You Are Woman, I Am Man”
Both of these songs played similarly in the Broadway show and film.
“Don't Rain on My Parade”
“Parade” played similarly in the Broadway show and film. In the film, however, Herbert Ross staged it very dynamically on location with the iconic tugboat ending.
On Broadway: Sung in Fanny an Nick's new Long Island house with some of the Ziegfeld chorus girls and Eddie. Some different lyrics, too.
On Film: Sung on the passenger liner, the Long Island home, and various locations by Fanny, alone.
“Find Yourself a Man”
On Broadway: Mrs. Strakosh and Eddie try to convince Mrs. Brice that since Fanny has married Nick, she should find herself a man to keep herself occupied.
On Film: Not utilized.
“Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” vs. “The Swan”
On Broadway: “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat,” a patriotic, military tap number, had Barbra costumed as “Private Schwartz from Rock-a-way.”
The song preceded the scene where Fanny fought with Nick about missing her opening night.
On Film: “The Swan”—a new song written for the film—served the same purpose in the film: it provided musical entertainment with Streisand doing comedic ballet, all the while providing a dramatic opportunity for Nick to disappoint Fanny.
“Who Are You Now?”
On Broadway: Immediately following “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat,” “Who Are You Now?” was sung by Fanny to Nick after a fight in her dressing room. The two embraced at its end.
On Film: “Who Are You Now?”, a lovely (and unappreciated) song from the Broadway show, was not used in the film. In fact, in the film after Fanny and Nick have a fight in their apartment, Fanny does not sing a song. Instead, Nick left Fanny alone to cry. Without the song, the relationship seemed more unfixable at that point in the film. It's a different way to progress the story, but it works too!
“Don't Rain On My Parade” (Nick)
On Broadway: After finding out Fanny put up money for the partnership with Mr. Renaldi, Nick called Tom Blackton about the “fancy bond deal”. Nick then sang a quick reprise of “Don't Rain on My Parade”: One roll for the whole shebang / One throw that bell will go clang / This time we play with my deck / Out of my way it's my neck / This time the setup feels right / Baby it's opening night / Hey Mrs. Arnstein—here I go!
On Film: Nick called Tom Branca and did not sing (although Omar Shariff recorded the song!). The musical underscore for the scene was “Don't Rain on My Parade”.
“The Music That Makes Me Dance” vs. “Funny Girl”
Both songs, although placed a little differently in the Broadway show and in the film, served the same purpose: they illustrated Fanny's feelings about dissolving her relationship with Nick.
On Broadway: In Fanny's dressing room, Mrs. Brice and Eddie told Fanny that Nick was in jail. Fanny, alone, began to sing “The Music That Makes Me Dance.” After the introductory lyric, Streisand walked stage center and sang the song in front of a curtain, alone on the stage. Ray Diffen, who worked on costumes for the Broadway show with designer Irene Sharaff, described what technically happened during the transition from dressing room to vaudeville stage:
.. we had to rig up a long evening dress under a short fur coat of leopard skin. She had to step back through a curtain of fringe, unhook the coat, let the dress fall and step through the curtain and sing.
An April 9, 1964 edition of The Village Voice also described the remarkable staging of “The Music That Makes Me Dance”:
Miss Streisand is sitting at her dressing table in a white coat just before curtain time when she is told that her husband has been arrested. A follow-spot pinpoints her face. The lights go out around her. The follow-spot turns lavender. She drops the coat and walks slowly, her face floating in the darkness as she sings, down to the footlights. A curtain whispers down behind her and gradually as the song builds, the spotlight widens until we see all of her, glamorous and vibrant, the heartbroken trouper that theatrical myths are built around.
On Film: After a courtroom scene and a tearful farewell to Nick, Fanny sang a new song by Styne and Merrill—“Funny Girl”—about the downside of being funny.
“Don't Rain On My Parade (reprise)” vs. “My Man”
The film and Broadway endings of Funny Girl each have a different tone.
The last scene between Fanny and Nick in the dressing room played, basically, the same in both Broadway and film until he left ...
On Broadway: The stage directions read “Fanny, in a silent rage, knocks over the contents of dressing table. Then, looking at herself in the mirror, she picks up the blue marble egg and holds it against her cheek.” Then, slowly, Fanny began to sing:
“I'll march my band out, I'll beat my drum ... Guess we didn't make it. At least I didn't fake it...”
On Film: Fanny looked after Nick longingly as he left the dressing room. She walked on stage alone and tearfully, then triumphantly sang “My Man”—the song that the real Fanny Brice was famous for singing. Composer Jule Styne did not want “My Man” in the Broadway score, but was overruled when the movie was made. He told the New York Times in 1987, “‘My Man’ ruined the movie.”
The endings are very different. On Broadway, Fanny fought back and exerted her will to overcome her tragedy. In the film, Fanny sang a “victim song”, although some fans maintain that she finished “My Man” with strength.
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