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July 10, 2024

Broadway musical 'Funny Girl' makes its Philly debut next week with a Temple alum in its cast

The show's two-week run at the Academy of Music is a homecoming for Sean Seamus Thompson, who grew up in Mayfair and got his professional start at the Wilma Theater.

Performances Musicals
Funny Girl Philadelphia Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade

The Broadway revival 'Funny Girl' is stopping at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia from July 16-28. The cast includes Sean Seamus Thompson, a Philly native who attended Temple University.

A Broadway revival will tap-dance into Philadelphia and dazzle audiences here for the first time starting next week.

"Funny Girl" is playing at the Academy of Music from Tuesday, July 16, through Sunday, July 28. Its cast includes Sean Seamus Thompson, a Philadelphia native who attended Temple University and began his career in the city.

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The musical comedy is a semi-biographical story based on the life and career of comedian Fanny Brice, who achieved her far-fetched dreams of becoming a star despite the naysayers. The show features flashy dance scenes and tap numbers, as well as classic songs like "Don't Rain On My Parade," "I'm the Greatest Star" and "People." 

"Funny Girl," which is making its Philly debut, debuted on Broadway in 1964 and was made into a movie starring Barbra Streisand in 1968. The show's latest revival, which opened in 2022, made waves when star Beanie Feldstein bowed out sooner than expected and was replaced by Lea Michelle — who had performed some "Funny Girl" numbers on the TV show "Glee." 

"A lot of people probably know the movie," Thompson said. "So you can expect the classic story of Fanny Brice and her coming of age story and coming into fame, but with a fresh take and a fresh eye on it. It has a contemporary sort of zing to it."

The cast for the Philly shows features rising star Katerina McCrimmon as Fanny Brice and Melissa Manchester, who won a Grammy Award in 1982 for "You Should Hear How She Talks About You," as Mrs. Brice. 

"Katerina McCrimmon, who plays Fanny Brice, is truly amazing, and I don't know if I've ever heard a voice like hers," Thompson said. "When she sings 'The Music That Makes Me Dance' at the end of the show, which is a big, old-timey ballad that she's just belting in the rafters, it's really incredible. The applause usually lasts a full minute."

Thompson is part of the ensemble and plays a character named Mr. Rinaldi, who appears in Act Two. He also is an understudy who often takes on major roles, including Fanny's husband Nick Arnstein, Tom Keeney and Florenz Ziegfeld.

"Everyone jokes around saying I just play everybody," Thompson said. "It's a lot to keep in my mind, but it keeps it interesting, for sure."

Thompson grew up in Mayfair and acted in school plays from first grade through his time at Archbishop Ryan High School, where he found a love for musical theater. He went on to Temple, where he studied theater and English. He also furthered his acting and classical singing skills with help from professors like Peter Reynolds— who now runs the musical theater department. 

At Temple, Thompson was involved in productions like "Into the Woods," "Ragtime" and "Damn Yankees" (which Thompson recalls performing around the same time the Phillies won the World Series in 2008). Thompson began his professional acting career in Philly with the Wilma Theater, which recently won a regional theater Tony award, before moving to New York City.

"I used to live two blocks from the Academy of Music, so it's like going home,"  Thompson said. "Honestly, I've seen a million shows there. I've got a lot of history with the Academy and with the theater community in Philly, obviously. I can't wait to see everybody. ... I know it's July in Philly, and everyone's trying to go down the shore, but we're playing. So, come downtown, come to Center City, and see us before you go back down the shore."

Tickets for "Funny Girl" can be purchased in advance online

'Funny Girl'

Tuesday, July 16, through Sunday, July 28
Times and ticket prices vary
Academy of Music
240 S. Broad St., Philadelphia

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