No one can play Fanny Brice in Funny Girl except Barbra Streisand, who plays it every time her immortal performance turns up when the movie shows.
Her fiery, hilarious, heartbreaking force-of-nature genius in the role looms over anyone else daring to come near it, spewing a giant rainfall on their parade.
So, it was no surprise when they announced last week that the revival starring the talented but not necessarily explosive Lauren Ambrose would be postponed.
After all, I remember premature announcements about past productions with Taylor Dayne and Sandra Bernhard that never materialized, everyone acting like they’d never been buzzed about in the first place.
In 1996, the spunky Deborah Gibson — then billed as Debbie Gibson — toured as Fanny, but according to this link, after Green Bay, Wisconsin, “all remaining dates were cancelled.”
And Leslie Kritzer reportedly did well in the role at Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011, but there wasn’t enough star wattage there to move it somewhere larger.
So the message remains:
Even if you can convincingly sing, “I’m the greatest star,” you’re still not as good as Babs — especially in this economy!
Stick to safer revivals or perhaps replacing people in Chicago.