Exclusive: Rosie O’Donnell Gives Us an Update on “Funny Girl” and Lady Gaga

Michael Musto and Rosie spill some Broadway tea.

Last night’s Rosie’s Kids gala at the Marriott Marquis benefited Rosie O’Donnell’s wonderful organization that enables young people to learn musical theater skills, and as a special treat, Billy Porter (Pose, Kinky Boots) was the night’s honoree.

Before the proceedings, I cornered Rosie to ask what she thought of the new A Star Is Born. “I liked it,” she said. “But I felt there was too much focus on Bradley Cooper’s character. In the Barbra Streisand version, she was so the star, and her lover [Jon Peters] produced it, so you saw lots of Barbra.” [Peters is one of the producers of the Cooper-Gaga version too, but he was way less involved.]

“In this one,” Rosie went on, “there was too much of Bradley going, ‘Watch me, I can play guitar. Watch me, I can sing.’ Kris Kristofferson [Barbra’s costar] didn’t have to do that because we knew him and what he did.”

Speaking of Lady Gaga appearing in a Barbra Streisand role: Earlier this month, someone tweeted that at a Randy Rainbow show, Rosie said onstage that she was going to play Fanny Brice’s mother Rose in a Broadway revival of Funny Girl, starring Gaga as the alternately funny and heartbreaking singer-comic Fanny Brice. (Barbra, of course, originated this onstage and also starred in the classic 1968 movie version, copping a Best Actress Oscar).

“Was that a hint?” I asked Rosie. “It’s a hint,” she replied, “but it is the truth. Michael Mayer [director of the current Broadway musical Head Over Heels, starring Peppermint] is doing it. He’s already got the rights from the estate. I’m going to play Rose Brice [Fanny’s sarcastic but supportive mom, who gets to sing on “If A Girl Isn’t Pretty” and other songs].”

And Gaga? “She’s going into a residency in Las Vegas,” said Rosie. It might be Gaga in Funny Girl, she said, “but I’m not certain.”

My humble opinion is that the lil monster would be terrific in the role and it would be hard to rain on her parade. Through the years, whispered-about revivals starring Sandra Bernhard, Taylor Dayne, and Lauren Ambrose never materialized—and Michael Mayer’s recent London production starring Sheridan Smith didn’t move here—but Gaga seems born to do the score justice and to enact the theatrics (though she hasn’t yet been able to fully show if she has the comic chops required).

“Well,” I said to Rosie before we parted, “Michael Mayer will probably put some transgender people in the show.” “We need them everywhere,” she replied, and then we both recited, “They’re trying to erase them—and us!” In unison!

Michael Musto is the long running, award-winning entertainment journalist and TV commentator.
@mikeymusto