Two icons, one stage – how it's been bringing Joan Rivers and Barbra Streisand together
Funny Girls plays in north London
"I am currently playing Barbra Streisand".
There's a sentence I never thought I would say! What an honour it is to be playing such an icon and total legend. It's a very new and special experience for me. Firstly, it's my first play, which is exciting in itself. Secondly, it's a two-hander, so there is a LOT of lines and we don't leave the stage at all!
Thirdly – as a Jewish actress myself, it's a huge honour to be playing such an iconic Jewish legend. We're having lots of fun in the roles and it's a really funny piece, so as well as the audience hopefully getting a giggle, we do too! The biggest challenge was definitely the line learning. I'm generally quite good at learning lines, but this is next level! There are only two of us in it, so it's like learning a book from memory, just constant conversation for 1.5 hours! I'm honestly impressed with us for pulling it off! We only have a few weeks left, so the plan is just to embrace playing these amazing, REAL characters and to enjoy it! – Rosanna Harris.
Stepping into the shoes of Joan Rivers has been a challenging and exciting opportunity. Rivers was, and continues to be, a pivotal and iconic female figure in comedy. She was so ahead of her time in terms of her delivery and material.
It has been a thrilling, invaluable experience which has enabled me to explore the comedic side of acting.
With so much available material for Rivers, inspiration hasn't come short. From her autobiographies to documentaries/TV to stand-up performances (from the 60s right through to her passing), I have been able to dive headfirst into the fascinating world of Joan. I started with her autobiography, Enter Talking, and got an understanding for how she found her comic identity through her knack for recounting stories with wit and charm, making the adults laugh at her parents dinners.
This autobiography is also where she talks about the play with Barbara Streisand. I have really enjoyed this part of the role, where I learn about her and consider the obstacles she faced. Studying her facial expressions, body language (she loved to use her hands!), her patterns of speech (she would often stumble on words, I imagine for comic effect) and of course her iconic sides: "oh please!…would you stop?!"
I feel so fortunate to have been given this opportunity - how many of us get to play characters that are as iconic and powerful as Streisand and Rivers? Funny Girls has been a fast-paced, highly physical and challenging experience and I have cherished my role in it! – Mia Tomlinson