Kent Theatre Guild brings ‘Funny Girl’ to Caesar Rodney High

Candice Castro stars as Fanny Brice, with Jose Bernard as her husband Nick Arnstein, in the Kent County Theatre Guild’s production of “Funny Girl”. The musical starts tonight at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden while the guild’s Patchwork Playhouse in Dover is undergoing renovations. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Candice Castro stars as Fanny Brice, with Jose Bernard as her husband Nick Arnstein, in the Kent County Theatre Guild’s production of “Funny Girl”. The musical starts tonight at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden while the guild’s Patchwork Playhouse in Dover is undergoing renovations. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

CAMDEN –– Kent County Theatre Guild is bringing “Funny Girl,” the musical tale of Fanny Brice’s quest for stardom, to the Caesar Rodney High School auditorium starting tonight.

“We wanted to do this musical for a long time and no one in the area had done it lately so the timing was just right,” said director John Muller.

“It also helps that some of the songs have been featured on ‘Glee’ so I think that creates some added interest.”

The musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1964 starring Barbra Streisand, is set in and around New York City just prior to and following World War I.

Ms. Brice, star of “The Ziegfield Follies,” is awaiting the return of her husband, Nicky Arnstein, from prison, and reflects on their life together.

It includes familiar songs such as “People” and “Don’t Rain On My Parade.”

“It takes getting into a whole new mindset to perform these characters well,” said Jose Bernard, a Theatre Guild regular portraying the role of Nick.

From left, Sean Scanlon as Eddie Ryan, Candice Castro as Fanny Brice and Jose Bernard as Nick Arnstein.

From left, Sean Scanlon as Eddie Ryan, Candice Castro as Fanny Brice and Jose Bernard as Nick Arnstein.

“The dialogue and jokes are all very different than what you’d hear today but once you accept the time period, it’s a really great show.”

Candice Castro, who plays the legendary stage, screen and radio actress and comedienne, pointed out the differences in fashion between then and now.

“I have 12 or 13 costume changes and every one is so beautiful,” she said. “Fashion was something that both men and women took very seriously back then.”

Ms. Castro graduated college with a degree in performing arts and performed professionally for five years before settling down in the area and taking on roles as more of a hobby than a profession.

The cast for the musical includes about 40 actors and 11 orchestra members, bringing together members from all over the community ranging in age from high school to post-retirement.

“Some of the kids here have either auditioned or been in a Theatre Guild show before so it’s always good to see a younger generation getting involved in local theater,” said Linda Hyler, who plays Fanny’s mother.

Staging the show at Caesar Rodney High this time, “Funny Girl” has a different venue than the usual Theatre Guild show.

“We’re actually redoing most of the theater,” Mr. Muller said of the Patchwork Playhouse on Roosevelt Avenue in Dover.

Second from left, Linda Hyler stars as Fanny Brice’s mother. She plays cards with neighbors, from left, Maureen Levine as Mrs. O’Malley, Edy Makariw as Mrs. Strakosh and Patrice Hartung as Mrs. Meeker. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Second from left, Linda Hyler stars as Fanny Brice’s mother. She plays cards with neighbors, from left, Maureen Levine as Mrs. O’Malley, Edy Makariw as Mrs. Strakosh and Patrice Hartung as Mrs. Meeker. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“The seating will now be divided into three tiers with movable seats so we can accommodate more than plays. We will be able to do concerts, comedy nights, a lot of new things and even add tables to accommodate unique performances.”

The new layout has been planned for three years and will also allow for better handicapped accessibility. Before renovations, those with limited mobility were restricted to only a few spots in the audience.

The larger venue at the high school, in part, allows for a show such as “Funny Girl,” with a large cast and live orchestra.

“We’re really grateful to CR,” said Mr. Muller, who teaches theater at the high school. “It’s important that a school is working with a community organization like this. And they’ve been so generous, allowing us to use this space almost every night for the past three months, even while school was still in session.”

The veteran actors suspect that the temporary venue will provide some confidence for some of the young actors.

“I think a lot of the kids are very comfortable here because it’s their space,” said Patrice Hartung, playing Mrs. Brice’s friend, Ms. Meeker, in her first speaking role.

Seeing the large cast and huge age range coming together for the show has been an exciting process for all involved.

“The first rehearsal is always a total mess and this was no different,” said Maureen Levine, playing Mrs. O’Malley.

“But then there is that ‘theater magic’ of it all coming together. Throughout the process, the kids are learning from us and we’re learning from them. It really becomes like a big family once show time comes around.”

“Funny Girl” starts tonight at 8 and continue on Saturday and July 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sunday and 24.

Tickets are available at kctg.org and at the door and are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and military and $10 for students and 12 and under.

The high school is at 239 Old North Road in Camden.

Candice Castro, center, stars as Fanny Brice in the Kent Country Theatre Guild production of “Funny Girl” at Caesar Rodney High. She is joined by showgirls, from left, Sam Mazzola, Rita Welch, Megann Martinez, Laini Bernard, Maureen VanOrman, Mallory DeCleene, Hydiyah Jones and Alania Carter. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Candice Castro, center, stars as Fanny Brice in the Kent Country Theatre Guild production of “Funny Girl” at Caesar Rodney High. She is joined by showgirls, from left, Sam Mazzola, Rita Welch, Megann Martinez, Laini Bernard, Maureen VanOrman, Mallory DeCleene, Hydiyah Jones and Alania Carter. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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