Funny Girl standby-turned-star Julie Benko, now playing Fanny Brice in the musical revival, included a Funny Girl easter egg in her Playbill bio for eagle-eyed theatre fans, paying homage to original Funny Girl stage and screen star Barbra Streisand.
Hint: It involves one of multiple infamous Playbill bios from Streisand's stage career.
No worries if you don't have one of Benko's Funny Girl Playbills close by—she's revealed all on TikTok. Watch below!
@jujujuliebee For more personal information, write to @gailpolokoffbenko. #broadway #barbrastreisand #theatretiktok #theater #history #womenincomedy #musicals ♬ original sound - Julie Benko
Benko took over as Fanny Brice following original star Beanie Feldstein's July 31 departure, and will continue through September 4. Glee star Lea Michele is set to join the company beginning September 6, with Benko staying on to handle Thursday performances.
Funny Girl, which premiered on Broadway in 1964, features a score by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, and a book by Isobel Lennart, newly adapted by Tony winner Harvey Fierstein for this revival. The original production propelled a young Barbra Streisand to international fame; she would reprise her stage performance in the 1968 film adaptation, winning an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in the process. The score introduced such standards as "I'm the Greatest Star," "People," "Don't Rain On My Parade," and "The Music That Makes Me Dance."
In addition to Benko, Funny Girl stars Jane Lynch as Mrs. Brice, Ramin Karimloo as Nick Arnstein, and Tony nominee Jared Grimes as Eddie Ryan, alongisde Peter Francis James as Florenz Ziegfeld, Ephie Aardema as Mrs. Nadler, Debra Cardona as Mrs. Meeker, Toni DiBuono as Mrs. Strakosh, and Martin Moran as Tom Keeney.
The ensemble comprises Amber Ardolino, Daniel Beeman, Kurt Csolak, Leslie Donna Flesner, Afra Hines, Masumi Iwai, Aliah James, Stephen Mark Lukas, John Thomas Manzari, Katie Mitchell, Justin Prescott, Mariah Reives, and Leslie Blake Walker. Rounding out the company are standbys Liz McCartney and Jeremiah James, and swings Colin Bradbury, John Michael Fiumara, Danielle Kelsey, and Alicia Lundgren.
The production is directed by Michael Mayer, who leads a creative team that includes choreography by Ellenore Scott, tap choreography by Ayodele Casel, music supervision and direction by Michael Rafter, scenic design by David Zinn, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Kevin Adams, sound design by Brian Ronan, and hair design by Campbell Young Associates. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Jason Thinger.
The production also includes orchestrations by Chris Walker; dance, vocal, and incidental music arrangements by Alan Williams; additional arrangements by Carmel Dean and David Dabbon; music coordination by Seymour Red Press and Kimberlee Wertz; and vocal supervision by Liz Caplan.