Attention people who need people! Funny Girl is turning 50, and that’s no laughing matter. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the classic Broadway musical that launched Barbra Streisand to superstardom, Capitol/UMe is releasing a CD/LP super deluxe edition of the original cast album of Funny Girl on April 29th.
The musical by librettist Isobel Lennart, composer Jule Styne (Gypsy, Bells Are Ringing) and lyricist Bob Merrill (Carnival, New Girl in Town) depicted the rise to fame of comedienne/Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice (Streisand, in her second Broadway role) and her troubled relationship with husband Nicky Arnstein (Sydney Chaplin, son of Charlie and star of Styne’s Bells Are Ringing and Subways Are For Sleeping). Kay Medford and Danny Meehan also starred as Mrs. Brice and Eddie Ryan, respectively, and future All in the Family “Dingbat” Jean Stapleton was featured as Mrs. Strakosh. Funny Girl, directed by Garson Kanin and produced by Brice’s son-in-law Ray Stark, opened on March 26, 1964 after 17 previews at the Winter Garden Theatre (today, home to the musical Rocky). It then transferred to two more theaters before closing in 1967 after 1,348 performances; Mimi Hines succeeded Streisand as Fanny. The show earned eight Tony nominations, but won none of them thanks to the unstoppable competition from David Merrick’s production of Hello, Dolly!. Streisand would be awarded for her portrayal of Fanny, however, when she won Golden Globe and Academy Awards for the 1968 film version. It would be her first role in a film. The musical produced a number of standards, including “I’m The Greatest Star,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and, of course, “People,” not to mention one of the most electrifying overtures ever composed.
The original cast album, one of Streisand’s only recordings not on Columbia Records, was recorded over just one session (as was standard practice at the time) at the Manhattan Center studios on April 5, 1964 and was produced by Dick Jones. Longtime Broadway champion Goddard Lieberson, the president of Columbia, reportedly passed on the cast album but made a stipulation that Streisand record a number of songs from the score for Columbia which she did in December of that year. (Two - "Who Are You Now" and "Cornet Man" - still remain locked in the Columbia vaults.) Lieberson might have rethought his passing on the album if he could have foreseen its success. In stores just a scant week after it was recorded, it went on to spend 51 weeks on the Billboard chart. It peaked at No. 2, kept from pole position only by The Beatles’ Second Album (illuminating how much the charts have changed over 50 years!). The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Funny Girl would eventually be certified Gold in September of 1964 and go on to win the Grammy for Best Original Cast Album. It was released on CD in 1987 on Capitol and in 1992 on EMI’s Broadway Angel Label, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004.
What will you find on the 50th Anniversary release? Hit the jump!
Capitol’s new box set edition will contain newly remastered versions of the original 17-track album on both CD and on vinyl, with no additional tracks. It will also come with a 48-page book containing a newly-written essay by Streisand’s longtime A&R executive Jay Landers plus photos from the original production. Additionally, the title will be available digitally in high definition 192K and 96K audio on HDTracks.
The Funny Girl celebration is expected to continue unabated. Currently, the musical is featured in a storyline on Fox’s Glee, and Glee producer Ryan Murphy is said to be mulling a Broadway revival of the show featuring the television show’s Lea Michele as Fanny. It would be the first-ever Main Stem revival of the musical, following high-profile productions with Debbie Gibson and Leslie Kritzer and an abortive production to have starred Lauren Ambrose.
As of this writing, Amazon is listing the 50th Anniversary Edition of Funny Girl at roughly $130, but we anticipate that the price will go down prior to release. The set is due in stores from Capitol Records on April 29, and you can check it out at the links below!
- Overture [Orchestra]
- If a Girl Isn't Pretty [Jean Stapleton, Kay Medford, Danny Meehan and Ensemble]
- I'm the Greatest Star [Barbra Streisand]
- Cornet Man [Barbra Streisand]
- Who Taught Her Everything? [Kay Medford and Danny Meehan]
- His Love Makes Me Beautiful [John Lankston, Barbra Streisand and Ensemble]
- I Want to Be Seen With You Tonight [Sydney Chaplin and Barbra Streisand]
- Henry Street [Ensemble]
- People [Barbra Streisand]
- You Are Woman [Sydney Chaplin and Barbra Streisand]
- Don't Rain on My Parade [Barbra Streisand]
- Sadie, Sadie [Barbra Streisand and Ensemble]
- Find Yourself a Man [Danny Meehan, Kay Medford and Jean Stapleton]
- Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat [Danny Meehan, Barbra Streisand and Ensemble]
- Who Are You Now? [Barbra Streisand]
- The Music That Makes Me Dance [Barbra Streisand]
- Don't Rain on My Parade (Reprise) [Barbra Streisand]