FUNNY GIRL TO MAKE CONCORD PLAYERS HISTORY!
"I want to give the audiences a wall of sound unlike anything they have heard!"
Brian Kelly has big plans for kicking off the Concord Players' 100th season. He'll be directing Funny Girl,
a 1964 musical about the life of singer, comedian, Vaudeville star and
movie actor Fanny Brice. It's the show that launched Barbra Streisand's
career, catapulting her to stardom and introducing a new generation to
Brice's comedic genius and the influence of Vaudeville on American
Born Fania Borach on
October 29, 1891, Brice was the child of Jewish immigrants who settled
on New York's Lower East Side. Her appetite for show business was
whetted by her success in local talent shows in Brooklyn. Determined to
have a career as an actress, she performed in Vaudeville and Burlesque,
often taking roles that didn't suit her talents, but kept her in front
of an audience. It took a few tries, but she found success in Florenz
Ziegfield's Follies, carving out a space for herself with comedy
as a counterpoint to his long-limbed, blonde, be-sequined beauties.
Later, she revealed the depth of her talent as a chanteuse with a
performance of My Man. Standing completely still in the middle of
the stage with no affect and no accent, she passionately intoned the
enduring lament of a woman's unrequited love, a lament that she herself
was living. The song became her signature and audiences thereafter
clamored to hear her sing it.
hard-working and tough, Brice ascended to stardom not through her songs,
however, but through her comedy. Capitalizing on the popular trend for
ethnic humor at the beginning of the 20th century, she developed skits in a Yiddish accent, doing "Jewish Jokes" and parodying stereotypes.
Later, in response to
growing anti-Semitic sentiments she dropped her accent and rose to radio
stardom by reprising a Vaudeville character of her own making, Baby
Snooks. Her persona as Snooks soon blossomed into a full-hour radio
show, providing Brice with fame and income for more than a decade.
son-in-law Ray Stark thought the tumultuous, rugged roads she traveled
to achieve success was a story worth telling. He encountered some rugged
terrain of his own being turned down by a series of lyricists,
composers, choreographers and actors not interested in doing the show
until he found success with composer Jule Styne and lyricist Bob
Merrill. Success was guaranteed with the casting of young Barbra
Streisand in the leading role of Fanny. Not-too-pretty, very Jewish, a
little brash and extremely funny, Streisand embodied Brice's essence.
She brought her instinct for comedy and her transcendent voice to the
part, giving herself and the play a prominent place in in the canon of
The plot of Funny Girl
centers around Fanny's marriage to entrepreneur and gambler Nicky
Arnstein. There's an almost tragic irony in Brice's marriage to
Arnstein. He was an embezzler, an addicted gambler, a crook and a
philanderer. Brice's own father lost the family business through
gambling debts, leaving her mother alone to provide for her family.
Brice met the same fate after Arnstein's second imprisonment for wire
fraud and his profligate spending of her money.
Despite the despicable Arnstein, Funny Girl is a show of determined optimism and aspirational energy, just like Fanny Brice.
"Funny Girl is one of
the great classic musicals of our time," says director Kelly. It is a
biopic in its truest sense. In addition to being a wonderful show with
iconic music, it takes us back to a time when the American musical
theater was coming into being as the art form we know today."
He says this show is
particularly relevant for Concord Players as the Players has its origins
in the early 1900s and has quite literally grown up with the American
theater. "We could not ask for a more historically appropriate piece to
kick off the 100th season."
Kelly hopes for a big turnout at tryouts because this show is, as he sees it, all about the ensemble. "Most people know Funny Girl
as being a lead vehicle show -- it's all about Fanny, but in particular
the ensemble is going to truly bring this show to life," he tells us.
"I think we often forget that people are made recognizable because of
the people around them. Who we interact with in life helps to create and
tell the story of who we become. I want to make sure that we create the
entire story of Fanny's life not just a singular snapshot of the person
The show is colored
with the world of Vaudeville which was an era of ensembles, shtick and
zany humor; actors riffing off each other, the comic, the straight man,
the buffoon. Kelly plans to recreate the world that Fanny lived in as
accurately as he can, and he'll need a strong ensemble to make that
It's no surprise the
Players will be mounting a major production rarely staged by regional or
community theaters. In 2010, the group staged a production of The Scarlet Pimpernel,
a play so technically complex and difficult, few professional theaters
even try to put it on the boards. The combined genius of set designer
Brian Harris and builder/engineer Allen Bantly resulted in some
show-stopping moments of technical wizardry: a boat that miraculously
appeared up out of the floor in a cloud of mist, for example. A cast of
rock-stars combined with a crew who never slept made for one of the
Players' most memorable and successful productions.
With Kelly at the helm and a virtuoso production team, the Players are undaunted despite the challenges that Funny Girl
presents. One New York Times reviewer said this about a recent Paper
Mill Playhouse production of the show: What makes it all the more
impressive is that few actors, or theater companies outside of summer
stock, dare to attempt Jule Styne's and Bob Merrill's grand spectacle
that propelled Barbra Streisand's career nearly 40 years ago."
We're not scared. Oh, and did we mention the 22 piece orchestra? So come be part of Concord Players' history and try out for Funny Girl!
For more information, visit the Concord Players website.
AUDITIONS FOR FUNNY GIRL!
Auditions for the first production of our 100th season are approaching!
by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merill, book by Isobel Lennart from an
original story by Miss Lennart. Directed by Brian Kelly (Spamalot, The Producers, Noises Off), music direction by Brendan Kenney, choreography by Katie Alexander, and produced by Susan Tucker.
Auditions for Funny Girl
be held on Wednesday, May 8th and Thursday, May 9th, both at 7:00pm at
51 Walden. Callbacks are scheduled for Sunday, May 12th, beginning
at 6:00pm. Auditions will be held by appointment only; the
SignUpGenius form is available via our website
November 8th, 9th, 10th (matinee)
November 15th, 16th, 17th (matinee)
November 22nd and 23rd
Check our website
for further information.
REMEMBERING PEGGY ELLIOTT
Peggy Pegram Elliot was a longtime Concord Players member who
greeted her friends with a warm smile and a big hug whenever they
walked into 51 Walden. She's done almost every job there is to do
in a theater, including props, set painting, producing, crew, and
advertising. Peggy made it a point to recruit new people to the Players
community and was always there when they were getting started to make
them feel welcome. She was long, leggy, and pretty with
strawberry-blonde hair and an alluring Texas twang. She knew how to use
her assets onstage as a dancer for the Lincoln Players and the Concord
Off stage, she was a committed member of the Lincoln and Concord
communities, volunteering on Town committees (in Lincoln where she
lived and raised her four children) and for all good causes. For
many years she worked on the DeCordova Museum annual international
festivals making giant paper mache figurines or cooking exotic foods to
serve to hundreds of guests. When her children were almost grown,
Peggy went back to school to obtain her Masters in Social Work,
enabling her to even further employ her natural compassion, insight,
and empathy to help others. Peggy entertained often and
elegantly in her architecturally-designed and stylishly-appointed home,
welcoming old friends and new residents of Lincoln who quickly became
friends. Her house abounded with energy, love, and happy pets for
many, many years. Peggy was kind, generous, and good to her
core. We will miss her.
4TH OF JULY PARADE
Calling all Patriotic Players!
The Concord Players
will be marching in Sudbury's Annual July 4th parade to kick off our
100th season. We are looking for volunteers to march or ride in
the parade, which begins at 1:00pm, with the line-up and judging for
awards at 12 noon.
The theme of the parade this year is perfect for us: "Dance and Sing, May Freedom Ring".
At least the weather should be warmer (and hopefully drier) than the
Patriots Day parade in April! Family and friends are invited to
participate. We also need banner carriers and flyer distributors -
this is a real old-fashioned, patriotic fun time for everyone.
Please contact Andrea
at email@example.com for more information and to volunteer. We
will confirm all the details to the volunteers closer to the date.
CONCORD PLAYERS MEMBER NEWS
We will be opening up subscriptions earlier this year! We are
getting everything together to make subscriptions available for
purchase in mid-May. If you are already a subscriber, you will
receive a packet in the mail with all the information you need to renew
(renew by July 15 to ensure your same seats!). If you're not a
current subscriber, our website will be updated with all the information
and a link to purchase subscriptions as soon as they are available.
Keep checking in - you don't want to miss any of the productions of our
centennial season, and subscribers get a great discount!
Sweeney Todd: Concord Player Ben Delatizky will be directing Sweeney Todd
at Burlington Players, which goes up May 3-18. CP Members Boot
Boutwell and Kate Beattie will be featured as Fogg and in the ensemble,
respectively. Other previous CP cast members include Tom Frates as
Sweeney, Alicia Jeanne O'Dwyer as Johanna, Timmy Chase as Tobias,
Robert Hallisey as Pirelli, Margaret Healey, Carol Krusemark, and Maria
Sundquist in the ensemble. Lighting design by Player Iain Bason,
costumes by Shahn Knights.
Carmen: Concord Players' Jay Newlon is choreographing Opera 51's fabulous production of George Bizet's Carmen, one of the most popular and most performed operas of all time, playing on the main stage June 7-9, 2019.
UPCOMING EVENTS AT 51 WALDEN
May 16, 17, and 18, Fri and Sat at 8 p.m. and Sun matinee at 2 p.m.:
The Concord Orchestra Pops with jazz vocalist Maureen McMullan
performing Johnny Mercer songs arranged by Bernard Hoffer and a
sing-along to Sound of Music
. Also on the program are Bizet's Carmen Suite No. 1
, Theme from Harry Potter
by John Williams, Suppe's Light Cavalry Overture
. Table seating and refreshments for sale. Click here
for ticket information.