‘Funny Girl’ opens at Marlee’s“Funny Girl” opens Thursday in Superior’s newest theater space, the second floor of Marlee’s Caribbean Restaurant, 525 Tower Ave. It marks the first production by the newly-formed Superior Community Theater.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
“Funny Girl” opens Thursday in Superior’s newest theater space, the second floor of Marlee’s Caribbean Restaurant, 525 Tower Ave. It marks the first production by the newly-formed Superior Community Theater.
“It’s a small cast and a big name draw,” said director Wes Kruse. The musical, which opened on Broadway with Barbara Streisand in the starring role, includes memorable numbers like “People,” “You Are Woman, I Am Man” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
Many of the cast members were unfamiliar with the script, based on the life and career of star and comedienne Fanny Brice. But they knew the song “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from the TV show “Glee.” Once rehearsals started, they were hooked.
“It was really fun,” said Ashley Kelleher, a University of Wisconsin-Superior sophomore who plays the role of Fanny during next week’s performances; Brittany MacDonell will play Fanny this weekend. “It just tells a great story about how she overcomes. She has hard times, but she perseveres.”
Not a typical beauty, Fanny rises in show biz through hard work and determination, backed by her mother (Brianna Kruse) and her mother’s friends (Lori Sislo, Star Strycharske and Jessie Kruse).
Strycharske said she relished her comic role as Sarah Strakosh, who never misses an opportunity to mention her own happily married daughter.
“Sarah is such a buttinski,” Strycharske said. “My favorite part is in the beginning when Fanny is looking back on her life and I’m sassing her.”
Another constant in Brice’s life is a dancer named Eddie Ryan, played by Joshua Johnson, a Superior High School senior.
“It’s going to be fun playing him,” Johnson said. “Doing things I wouldn’t normally do.” In one scene, Eddie wears a dress so Fanny’s mother and her friends can pin it up.
“I’m just having fun with it,” Johnson said.
Tim Sislo, who plays Fanny’s love interest Nick Arnstein, knows the musical well.
“I’ve watched the movie a lot, because it’s my mom’s favorite,” the SHS senior said. “It’s a very smart story; it’s also autobiographical.”
He and Kelleher said they especially enjoy the funny, flirty scene where Nick tries to seduce Fanny over dinner. Meanwhile, Johnson said, Eddie has a secret crush on his friend Fanny.
“The play is really good, it’s really fun,” said Brianne MacDonell, a member of the troupe. And the actors do a terrific job.
The new community theater group has turned the large, open room on Marlee’s second floor into a spot for art. The focal point is the stage. But scattered along the walls are murals by many local artists – a prairie scene that could work as a backdrop for “Oklahoma,” a New York cityscape and a close-up of Marilyn Monroe, to name a few. Add in spotlights, costumes, music and stars waiting to shine.
“I knew there was lots of talent,” said Kruse, who started Superior Community Theater with his wife, Mondie. “That’s why we had to do something. Because everybody kept saying, ‘We need something to do; we need a theater.’ So we decided this is the time.”
And Marlee’s is the place. The dedicated space gives the thespians a place of their own, to both rehearse and perform. And audience members have a convenient spot to eat dinner before the show, or get some dessert after the curtains close.
“So as long as people keep coming for a meal or two, we can have a community theater,” Wes Kruse said. “Keep theater alive.”
Show dates are 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. April 7-9 and 2 p.m. April 10. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for students and seniors. Special dinner and show tickets are available for $21. To order tickets in advance, call (218) 393-0148. To have dinner and a show, allow about an hour to dine. Parking is available in both of the lots behind Marlee’s and in Thirsty’s lot.