Funny Face (musical)
|Book||Paul Gerard Smith
|Productions||Alvin Theatre (1927)
Funny Face is a 1927 musical composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and book by Fred Thompson and Paul Gerard Smith. When it opened on Broadway on November 22, 1927, as the very first show on the newly built Alvin Theatre, it starred Fred Astaire and his sister Adele Astaire. It was in this show that Fred Astaire first danced in evening clothes and a top hat.
Originally called Smarty, it first opened in Philadelphia on October 11, 1927 to poor reviews. This led to major rewrites and caused critic-humorist Robert Benchley, who had contributed to the script, to walk out. The rewrites and changes continued as the musical moved from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. (October 31); to Atlantic City (November 7); to Wilmington (November 14); before reaching Broadway and the Alvin Theatre on November 22, now renamed Funny Face. It became a major Broadway hit, and after 244 performances, the whole company transferred it to London, where Fred and Adele Astaire had a successful run of Lady, Be Good! just before starting the rehearsals of Smarty in Philadelphia.
Jimmy Reeve is the legal guardian of three pretty sisters, Dora, June and Frankie, whose prize belongings he keeps in his safe. June's pearl necklace is locked in there, and so is Frankie's diary, after having been confiscated by Jimmy. However, the diary contains very incriminating things, so Frankie convinces the aviator Peter Thurston to steal it from the safe. But somehow he manages to steal the pearls instead, setting off a merry chase that takes the cast to the Atlantic City pier. And to make matters even more complicated, two bumbling burglars, Herbert and Dugsie, also try to break into the safe and are swept along in the chase. At one point, they have a falling out, but Herbert is unable to shoot Dugsie as he has forgotten to get a shooting license.
Original Broadway production
- Main cast
Adaptions and inspirations
- The plot of 1936 British film She Knew What She Wanted is loosely based on the musical, but doesn't contain any of the music.
- The 1957 film musical Funny Face, which also starred Fred Astaire, featured just four songs from the stage musical, and the plot was totally different.
- The 1983 Broadway musical My One and Only was claimed to be a revival of the original musical, but contained only some of the songs and had a very different plot.
- Website with extensive description of the show, with reprints from The Oxford Companion to American Theatre and various books
- The Oxford Companion to American Theatre: Funny Face (1927) Linked 2013-05-18
- Jablonski, Edward. Gershwin. Doubleday (1988), p. 144
- Howard Pollack: George Gershwin: His Life and Work, pages 406-9 Linked 2013-05-18
- Philip Furia: Ira Gershwin: The Art of the Lyricist, pages 63-65 Linked 2013-05-18
- Talkin' Broadway Regional News & Reviews: San Francisco - "Woman in Black" and "Funny Face" - 5/22/00
- IBDB: Funny Face, Alvin Theatre 1927-1928 Linked 2013-05-18