Nine years ago, a friend’s mother told Katerina McCrimmon, “You’re going to play Fanny Brice in ‘Funny Girl’ some day.” McCrimmon, just 16 years old at the time and a budding actress, possessed the same spunky, silly, never-say-die vitality as Brice, the friend’s mother said. Now 25 years old, McCrimmon is traveling the country in the national tour of “Funny Girl,”. Playing Fanny’s mother Rose, meanwhile, is pop star Melissa Manchester, known for such hits as “Midnight Blue” and “Don’t Cry Out Loud.”

“Funny Girl,” which premiered on Broadway in 1964, traces the story of the indomitable Brice, a girl from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who dreamed of a life on the stage. Everyone told her she’d never be a star, but she became one of the most beloved performers in history. The national tour, based on the 2022 Broadway revival, includes all of Jule Styne’s classic songs, including the lyrical “People” and roaring showstopper “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

Manchester said the role of Rose, Fanny’s mother, is one she understands “on the cellular level.” “Having grown up in the Bronx, I feel Rose’s dialogue sounds a lot like my aunts, to whom I was very close,” she said. “I love this show,” Manchester added. “The revised script (by Harvey Fierstein) is so beautifully rendered. The company is wonderful, the production is gorgeous. Our leading lady, Katerina McCrimmon, is spectacularly talented. The response from the audience has been thunderous.”

“I feel like I was born for this role,” McCrimmon said, speaking from a tour stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “I relate to Fanny Brice so much.” “She is the most captivating character I’ve ever played,” said McCrimmon, a Miami native who has been dancing and singing since she was 8 years old. “The story is both comical and poignant. It’s such a rewarding role, and I’m just having a ball on stage.”

Manchester celebrates her 50th year in show business this year and the release of her 25th album in 2024.

FUNNY GIRL on Tour: Show Clips
Excerpt from author Paul Hyde, Greenville Journal