But it’s almost impossible to cast.
Auditions are being held in New York and Los Angeles for the part of Fanny Brice in the upcoming Broadway revival of “Funny Girl.”
The role is legendary because it made a star of Barbra Streisand in 1964.
Almost 50 years later, Streisand’s still a tough act to follow, especially since her performance can be seen in all its musical-comedy glory in the 1968 movie.
Anytime an actress sings “People,” her voice is going to be compared to Streisand’s — and that’s not a comparison to be entered into lightly.
The revival, slated to open next winter, is being directed by Bart Sher, who won a Tony for his gorgeous production of “South Pacific” in 2008 but had an el floppo with this season’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”
He’s met with several leading actresses, I’m told, but has yet to find this generation’s Streisand.
At one point, “Glee” star Lea Michele appeared to be the top choice. She even gave a public audition, of sorts, at last year’s Tonys, running down the aisle while belting out “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
It wasn’t her finest hour, and talk of starring in the show cooled the next day.
But she’s still in the running, and would certainly be a box-office draw.
Sher’s also met with Nicole Parker, of “MADtv.” She has impressed Broadway insiders as Elphaba in “Wicked.”
The very funny Leslie Kritzer, who won raves in “Funny Girl” at the Paper Mill Playhouse a few years ago, auditioned, though the fact that she’s not a star is an issue for the show’s backers.
On Broadway today, the consensus is that you can’t open a revival without a name.
I also hear that two of Sher’s favorite actresses – Laura Benanti and Kelli O’Hara — are possibilities.
The wonderful Benanti is up for a Tony this year for “Women on the Verge.” Fanny Brice was one of the greatest stage comediennes of all time, and Benanti proved she’s a gifted comedienne herself in “Verge.”
O’Hara certainly has the voice, the charm and the comic timing, as she demonstrated in “South Pacific.” But she might be miscast as Fanny Brice.
One thing’s for sure: All of the candidates are head and shoulders above Debbie Gibson, who starred in a 1996 national tour.
After seeing her performance in Philadelphia, a theater agent cracked: “They should just call it ‘Girl.’ ”
John Kander says he’s still “bewildered” as to why “The Scottsboro Boys,” the final show he wrote with the late Fred Ebb, lasted only a few weeks on Broadway.
But the 12 Tony nominations the show received this week — Best Musical among them — are a pretty good consolation prize.
“It means the show will have a life elsewhere,” says Kander. “And while I’m disappointed we didn’t run, I certainly don’t feel cheated.
“There is a parallel here,” he adds. “In 1968, the year Fred and I did ‘The Happy Time,’ we were considered the front runner for the Tony. The show we were up against — ‘Hallelujah, Baby!’ — had been closed for six months. When they called out the nominees for Best Musical, Fred and I leaned forward and buttoned our jackets. And they said, ‘Hallelujah, Baby!’ and we burst out laughing.
“It just goes to show you what can happen when you get cocky in this business.”
He’s going to the Tonys this year, but “I’m not buttoning my jacket.”