Boyett said an open theater on Broadway accelerated plans before crucial creative decisions could be made. And he was unable to raise the funds for a lavish show that had a budget of $13-14 million at the time.
He brushed off the fact that Ambrose’s casting was the problem, while agreeing that it was part of what was holding investors back. “Some people were holding back because they thought it was a big budget,” Boyett said. “And some people do such an amazing job casting a role the first time around that it’s hard to think they’ll ever be replaced.”
In a 2018 interview, Ambrose remembers the shock. “We were two weeks away from rehearsal,” she said. “Obviously it was a disappointment, but as an actor, really, really, it’s easy going. These things, they come together and they fall apart all the time.
Fairly true. And that year, Ambrose got a shot at another classic plum role, playing Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” for the Lincoln Center Theater.
She was nominated for a Tony Award. Bartlett Sher was its manager.
Sonia Friedman, now a powerhouse producer in London and New York, learned to appreciate “Funny Girl” by hearing her older sister, Maria Friedman, perform “Don’t Rain on My Parade” in concert.
She made her first rights plea in the late 1990s, she said, offering a “clean” version, for British audiences, that would put the story, not the spectacle, front and center – and would be a vehicle for Maria, then a London theater star.
“It looked like it might happen,” Friedman said, “and then Maria got pregnant. She moved on, I moved on.