Monday, June 6, 2011

Hello, Fanny Brice!


"I've been rich and I've been poor.Rich is better."
-Fanny Brice

Yesterday, thanks to my dear friend Chip Defaa, I attended ONE NIGHT WITH FANNY BRICE starring Kimberly Faye Greenberg as the original funny girl.

First of all, let me talk about the show. I LOVED IT! Chip Deffaa used an incredible device of using the "ghost" of Fanny Brice who takes us through her life.

But, trust me, this Fanny is very much alive.

Kimberly commands the stage for a two act tour de force that takes us through the ups and downs of Fanny's life both on and off stage. Most of us know Fanny Brice through Funny Girl and Funny Lady.
I discovered that when Fanny's daughter and son in low Ray Stark started working on Funny Girl, Nickie Arnstein was very much alive. So we got a really watered down version of the REAL Nickie Arnstein. He was a MAJOR criminal which you do get a sense of in ONE NIGHT WITH FANNY BRICE. It was nice to get a sense of him as well as Fanny's father and her brother. Neither are even referred to in Funny Girl or Funny Lady. It is also great to hear so many of the songs from Fanny's cannon of songs. You will hear Rose of Washington Square, Second Hand Rose, and of course, MY MAN!
You'll hear over 25 songs in this show! GO SEE THIS SHOW!
It is at St. Luke's Theatre where I did RICHARD SKIPPER AS CAROL CHANNING IN CONCERT earlier this year.Louis Phillip and Edmund Gaynes are presenting this show. Written, arranged, and directed by Chip Defaa who has done a superb job in all areas.

Kimberly Faye Greenberg is a real find!
Kimberly Faye Greenberg is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, Kimberly has performed across the United States in national tours, regional theatres, cabarets and theatre for young audiences.
Kimberly originated the role and recorded the cast album which is now available on the Original Cast Records label. I'm ordering my copy today! Also of note is that Kimberly is also about to celebrate 2 years of performing Sylvia Fine in "Danny & Sylvia, The Danny Kaye Musical"
also at St. Luke's Theatre.
Danny Kaye was a great American entertainer with an enormous creative range, encompassing dance, popular song, classical music, complicated verse, impersonation and improvisation, which melded together into an utterly unique style. He was equally popular and at home on the stage, television, the silver screen, and radio. Over the course of his career, Kaye’s talents were lauded as deeply original and American.
Born David Daniel Kaminsky in Brooklyn in 1913, Danny Kaye was the son of an immigrant Russian tailor.
After dropping out of high school he worked for a radio station and later as a comedian in the Catskills. Known as “the Borscht Belt,” the venues throughout the Catskills were often a place for comedians and other entertainers to experiment. After his solo success in the Catskills, the young Kaye joined the dancing act of Dave Harvey and Kathleen Young in 1933. On opening night he lost his balance and the audience broke into a roar of laughter. He would later incorporate this into his act. Throughout the late 1930s Kaye went out and performed on his own—often with material written by his wife, Sylvia Fine.

Fanny Brice (October 29, 1891 – May 29, 1951) was a popular and influential American illustrated song "model,"* (SEE BELOW) comedienne, singer, theatre and film actress, who made many stage, radio and film appearances and is known as the creator and star of the top-rated radio comedy series, The Baby Snooks Show.
Thirteen years after her death, she was portrayed on the Broadway stage by Barbra Streisand in the musical Funny Girl and its 1968 film adaptation.
Fanny Brice (occasionally spelled Fannie Brice) was the stage name of Fania Borach, born in New York City, the third child of relatively well-off saloon owners of Hungarian Jewish descent.
In 1908, Brice dropped out of school to work in a burlesque revue, and two years later she began her association with Florenz Ziegfeld, headlining his Ziegfeld Follies from 1910 to 1911.
She was hired again in 1921 and performed in them into the 1930's.
In the 1921 Follies, she was featured singing "My Man" which became both a big hit and her signature song. She made a popular recording of it for Victor Records.
The second song most associated with Brice is "Second Hand Rose," which she introduced in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1921.
She recorded nearly two dozen record sides for Victor and also cut several for Columbia. She is a posthumous recipient of a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for her 1921 recording of "My Man".
Brice's Broadway credits include Fioretta, Sweet and Low, and Billy Rose's Crazy Quilt. Her films include My Man (1928), Be Yourself! (1930) and Everybody Sing (1938) with Judy Garland. Brice, Ray Bolger and Harriet Hoctor were the only original Ziegfeld performers to portray themselves in The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and Ziegfeld Follies (1946). For her contribution to the motion picture industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at MP 6415 Hollywood Boulevard.
From the 1930s until her death in 1951, Fanny made a radio presence as a bratty toddler named Snooks
, a role she premiered in a Follies skit co-written by playwright Moss Hart. With first Alan Reed and then Hanley Stafford as her bedeviled Daddy, Baby Snooks premiered in The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air in February 1936 on CBS.
She moved to NBC in December 1937, performing the Snooks routines as part of the Good News show, then back to CBS on Maxwell House Coffee Time, the half-hour divided between the Snooks sketches and comedian Frank Morgan, the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz, in September 1944. Brice's longtime Snooks sketch writer, Philip Rapp and David Freedman, brought in partners, Arthur Stander and Everett Freeman, to develop an independent, half-hour comedy program. The program launched on CBS in 1944, moving to NBC in 1948, with Freeman producing. First called Post Toasties Time (named for the show's first sponsor), the show was renamed The Baby Snooks Show within short order, though in later years it was often known colloquially as Baby Snooks and Daddy.
Brice was so meticulous about the program and the title character that she was known to perform in costume as a toddler girl even though seen only by the radio studio audience. She was 45 years old when the character began her long radio life. In addition to Reed and Stafford, her co-stars included Lalive Brownell, Lois Corbet and Arlene Harris playing her mother, Danny Thomas as Jerry, Charlie Cantor as Uncle Louie and Ken Christy as Mr. Weemish. She was completely devoted to the character, as she told biographer Norman Katkov: "Snooks is just the kid I used to be. She's my kind of youngster, the type I like. She has imagination. She's eager. She's alive. With all her deviltry, she is still a good kid, never vicious or mean. I love Snooks, and when I play her I do it as seriously as if she were real. I am Snooks. For 20 minutes or so, Fanny Brice ceases to exist."

* (FROM ABOVE)An illustrated song is a type of performance art and was a popular form of entertainment in the early 20th century in the United States.
Live performers (usually both a pianist and a vocalist) and music recordings were both used by different venues (vaudeville houses first and later in nickelodeons) to accompany still images projected from glass slides.
This allowed the images to be painted in color by hand.

A single song was usually accompanied by 12 to 16 different images that sequentially "illustrated" the lyrics. Projection booths used either stereopticons with two projectors or machines that combined projection of both slides and moving pictures.
Illustrated songs often preceded silent films and/or took place during reel changes, but some venues relied principally on illustrated songs alone. At least ten thousand small theaters nationwide featured illustrated songs.
Illustrated songs were seen as a valuable promotional tool for marketing sheet music.


Audience participation was encouraged, and repeat performances also helped encourage sheet music sales.

Several film stars began their careers as "models" who "illustrated" lyrics through a series of song slides. These stars included Roscoe Arbuckle, Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Alice Joyce, Florence Lawrence, and Norma Talmadge.

The first illustrated song was "The Little Lost Child" in 1894.
The song went on to become a nationwide hit selling more than two million copies of its sheet music, its success credited mainly to illustrated song performances which have been termed the first "music video."
GO SEE THIS SHOW!
One Night With Fanny Brice

Written and directed by Chip Deffaa
Featuring Kimberly Faye Greenberg
St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 West 46th Street
production web site: http://stlukestheatre.com


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Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

1 comment:

  1. Fannie would have been very proud and approving of Barbra Streisand portraying her. Her daughter, Frances may have been a bit skeptical at first but she did come around to accept Barbra later on.

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