“One of the things that really inspired me in terms of the creation of the choreography is the legacy in the tradition of tap dancing,” shares Ayodele Casel, the tap choreographer for the current Broadway revival of Funny Girl at the August Wilson Theatre.
“I looked at John Bubbles. That means Baby Laurence and Sammy Davis, John Bubbles Jr. It means Bill Robinson. It means the Nicholas Brothers. John Bubbles and the Nicholas Brothers were part of the Ziegfeld legacy. And so for me, it was very easy to sort of transplant and channel that spirit and that energy through Eddie Ryan, which is Jared Grimes' character.”
Watch the video above to learn Casel’s fast-paced choreography for "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" and dance along with cast members Kurt Csolak and John Thomas Manzari.
Also in the cast are Peter Francis James as Florenz Ziegfeld, Ephie Aardema as Mrs. Nadler, Debra Cardona as Mrs. Meeker, Toni DiBuono as Mrs. Strakosh, Martin Moran as Tom Keeney, and Julie Benko as the standby for Fanny Brice.
The ensemble comprises Amber Ardolino, Daniel Beeman, Csolak, Leslie Donna Flesner, Afra Hines, Masumi Iwai, Aliah James, Stephen Mark Lukas, Manzari, Katie Mitchell, Justin Prescott, Mariah Reives, and Leslie Blake Walker. Rounding out the company are standbys Liz McCartney and Jeremiah James, and swings Colin Bradbury, John Michael Fiumara, Danielle Kelsey, and Alicia Lundgren.
The work, which premiered on Broadway in 1964, is a biomusical centered on Broadway and vaudeville star Fanny Brice. The original production propelled a young Barbra Streisand to international fame; she would reprise her stage performance in the 1968 film adaptation, winning an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in the process. The score, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill, introduced such standards as "I'm the Greatest Star," "People," "Don't Rain On My Parade," and "The Music That Makes Me Dance."
Mayer leads a creative team that includes choreography by Ellenore Scott, tap choreography by Casel, music supervision and direction by Michael Rafter, scenic design by David Zinn, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Kevin Adams, sound design by Brian Ronan, and hair design by Campbell Young Associates. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Jason Thinger.
The production also includes orchestrations by Chris Walker; dance, vocal, and incidental music arrangements by Alan Williams; additional arrangements by Carmel Dean and David Dabbon; music coordination by Seymour Red Press and Kimberlee Wertz; and vocal supervision by Liz Caplan.