“Funny Girl”, which will be brought to the stage by the Mountain District Musical Society after over a 20-year-absence from theatre in Victoria, was a smash on the stage as well as on screen, and, of course, made a star out of a kooky nightclub singer called Barbra Streisand. But, along with suppressing many of the facts of Brice’s life, Isobel Lennart’s book misrepresented her personality and style. The real Brice was an earthy, gutsy woman with a more anarchic spirit than the cool, self-consciously cute Streisand.
Fania Borach (1891-1951) was indeed born on the Lower East Side of New York until she was tapped for the Ziegfeld Follies. A trouper from the age of 14, Brice spent several years knocking around vaudeville and burlesque clubs
In her first Follies (1910), Brice used her down-to-earth personality to ridicule heroines of high culture and glamorous passion. Brice was not a comedienne but a clown – she called herself a cartoonist in flesh. When Garson Kanin, the director of the original Broadway production of Funny Girl on stage, asked two of Brice’s friends for her most outstanding characteristic, Katharine Hepburn said “elegance”, and Spencer Tracy said “sexuality”. Hepburn was referring to Brice’s professional elegance – though her gestures were large, she used only one, the perfect one, to make a point. She could have been speaking of Brice’s couture clothes or her later career.
Theatre audiences never adored any performer more than Fanny. It would be impossible for an audience to laugh louder, weep more copiously and applaud more violently than Fanny’s audience did. That lovable quality could translate into a maternal sexiness, which was certainly in evidence when, in 1912, she met Nick Arnstein. Funny Girl portrays Arnstein – one of several aliases – as an honest man who, on one occasion, sold stolen bonds in a desperate attempt to prove his independence from a famous, successful wife. But, at the time he met Brice, the well-dressed, smooth-talking Arnstein had been arrested several times for fraud. Far from being too proud to take his wife’s money, he spent plenty of it, on houses, horses, and the immense legal fees needed to defend him after he became involved in the $5m bond fraud and skipped town. Besotted with Arnstein, Brice maintained his innocence (at least in public – at home she entertained too many of his gangster friends to believe it). When he came out of prison for the second time, in 1927, she divorced him, because they were incompatible and Arnstein had also been spending her money on other women.
We are proud to introduce the two performers who will be bringing these characters to life at the Karralyka Centre in June. Jaclyn DeVincentis plays the coveted role of Fanny Brice and Daniel Mottau turns on his debonair charm as the romantic con-artist Nick Arnstein
Jaclyn DeVincentis – FANNY BRICE
Jaclyn made her theatrical debut in 2009 playing Mary Flynn in Merrily We Roll Along for OPTC, earning herself two nominations from the Music Theatre Guild of Victoria. Since then highlights include Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! (ARC Theatre, 2010), Lucille Frank in Parade (WATERDALE, 2012) for which she received a MTGV nomination and Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls (MDMS, 2014). In 2013 she performed the coveted role of Mama Rose in GYPSY for Nova Music Theatre, a performance which earned her the MTGV award for Best Performance by a Leading Female.
In 2014 Jaclyn made her cabaret debut in ‘JB Hi-Life’ which premiered at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the Cabaret Showcases. Since then she has performed at Cabaret @ Husk and the Butterfly Club. Jaclyn returned to Chapel in 2015 to make her professional debut in ‘Jaclyn Nose Best’, her first full length show musically directed by Mark Jones. After receiving positive reviews and surviving the wrath of her scorned mother Jaclyn hopes to remount the show later in 2015.
Jaclyn also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, Drama & Media and a Bachelor of Education from La Trobe University. She has studied voice under the tuition of Becky Fox and David Rogers Smith and is currently under the tutelage of Melissa Langton and Mark Jones.
Jaclyn is thrilled to be taking on her dream role of Fanny Brice. She hopes you enjoy the show. Now talk amongst yourselves…she’s getting verklempt!
Daniel Mottau – NICK ARNSTEIN
Daniel is a student of the VCA, graduate of The Australian Film & Television Academy and an extensively trained Lyric Tenor, specialising in classical voice. His domestic professional credits include Australian Shakespeare Company’s Romeo & Juliet (Benvolio), the two-time green room nominated play The Weather & Your Health, Grease 2: Live in Concert (Johnny), Madame Butterfly (Goro) and appointment as Resident Lead Tenor to the Victorian Concert Orchestra across three seasons. International engagements include Australia-Pacific tours of Time Warp: Rocky Horror Show (Brad Majors), as well as A Broadway Christmas (Lead Singer) and The Balinese Princess (The King) in Asia. His most memorable credits in community theatre include Fiddler on the Roof (Perchik), Jesus Christ Superstar (Peter), Les Miserables (Courfeyrac), The Pirates of Penzance (Frederic/Samuel), Ruddigore (Richard Dauntless), Kismet (The Caliph), West Side Story (Tony) and more recently, the multi-award winning light opera The Light in The Piazza (Fabrizio).
Funny Girl opens at the Karralyka Centre on June 12, 2015. Tickets are available from the Karralyka website.