Cuccioli/Kritzer Funny Girl Opens April 6 at Paper Mill
By Randy Gener
© 2000
Robert Cuccioli
© 2001  Jerry Dalia
Leslie Kritzer as Fanny Brice



MILLBURN, NJ -- Paper Mill Playhouse is readying the first major revival of Funny Girl in 30 years, and it has nabbed a young up-and-comer to play the coveted role of Fanny Brice.

Leslie Kritzer, 23, is playing Fanny Brice in the classic musical opposite Paper Mill favorite Robert Cuccioli as Nicky Arnstein.

A Livingston, NJ native and Hoboken resident, Kritzer is fresh out of Cincinnati's Conservatory of Music and the recent Off-Broadway revival of Godspell. A production spokesperson said Kritzer prepared 45 minutes of material from the show for her audition.

Paper Mill's revival of Funny Girl officially opens April 6 and runs for seven weeks through May 20. Previews began April 4.

Bob Dorian, the host for the American Movie Classics cable TV channel, is playing Florenz Ziegfeld in Robert Johanson's production, with choreographer Michael Lichtefeld and musical director Tom Helm.

Also, Matt Bogart (Smokey Joe's Cafe and Adam Pascal's standby in Aida) is starring as Billy Bigelow in Paper Mill's upcoming revival of Carousel, which will also be directed by Johanson.

In Carousel, Glory Crampton is playing the naive millworker Julie Jordan. Christiane Noll is playing Carrie Pipperidge. Jekyll and Hyde alum Rob Evan was offered the role of Mr. Snow but turned it down. Instead Brandon Jovanovitch, who was the lead in Student Prince opposite Christiane Noll, will play Mr. Snow.

Jim Newman (Steel Pier and Paper Mill's Pippin) would have played Jigger but turned it down in favor of the national tour of Kiss Me Kate Instead, Jeb Brown, who played Lank in Crazy For You at Paper Mill is playing Jigger.

Previews begins May 29 for Paper Mill's Carousel, with an opening slated for June 1. That opening date also happens to mark the 15,000th stage performance for actor Eddie Bracken, who will take on the role of Starkeeper in the revival.

Carousel has music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and is based on Ferenc Molnar's play Liliom, as adapted by Benjamin F. Glazer. Musical highlights are "The Carousel Waltz," "If I Loved You," "Mister Snow," "June is Bustin' Out All Over" and "You'll Never Walk Alone."

Robert LaFosse (Jerome Robbins' Broadway) is choreographer for Carousel and, as usual, Tom Helm is the musical director.

For tickets or subscription, call Paper Mill at (973) 376-4343.

© 2001  Jerry Dalia
Leslie Kritzer sings "I'm the Greatest Star"
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