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Professional theater comes to QCC stage

By DAVID J. GLENN

Professional productions of three musicals that stand graciously among the classics of theater history are coming this month and next to the Queensborough Community College Theater.

As part of QCC’s Professional Performing Arts Series, “Unforgettable, the Nat King Cole Story” will be presented at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23; “Funny Girl” will be performed at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, and “La Boheme” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.

Shows in the QCC series usually are sold out quickly; if you are interested in seeing any or all, call 631-6311 soon.

In “Un“Funny Girl” — which will be presented by Candlewood International Mainstage Artists Management — profiles in spirited music and well-paced dialogue the life of Fanny Brice, a New Yorker born in 1891 who was a star in American musical theater for a quarter-century. She was immortalized by Barbara Streisand’s portrayal of her on the screen.

Brice made her first stage appearance in Brooklyn in “A Royal Slave.” She soon started in vaudeville, and within a year landed a role with the legendary Ziegfeld Follies, staying with the master showman for the next 24 years.

It was in vaudeville that she met the celebrated gambler Nicky Arnstein. The musical portrays their rocky marriage, which eventually ends in divorce as Arnstein fails in gambling and Brice soars to theatrical fame.

Brice also captured fans in screen roles in the 1930s, including playing herself in “The Great Ziegfeld.”

She soon reached even larger audiences through the emerging technology of radio. Her best known character was “Baby Snooks,” which quickly became a weekly program and, in the late 1940s, a television series.

Brice will always be remembered for “My Man,” “Second Hand Rose,” “Rose of Washington Square,” and other songs which remained popular long after her death in 1951.

Next month, the American Opera Music Theatre Co. presents “La Boheme” at QCC, based on the stories, “Scenes de la vie Boheme” by Henry Murger.

The operatic production portrays the life of starving artists at the turn of the 19th century in Paris.

As the play opens, it is Christmas Eve. Rodolfo, a poet, and Marcello, a painter, are hungry and cold in a garret on Paris’ left bank — so desperate, in fact, that Rodolfo has to stop Marcello from using one of the few chairs they have, to burn in the stove for heat. Instead, Rodolfo decides to use his five-act tragedy to burn, act by act.

Colline, the philosopher, enters the scene. Soon later Schaunard, the musician, makes a grand entrance, bearing food and wine. Benoit, the landlord, comes in looking for his rent, but he’s plied with the food and drink and once again the artists avoid paying the rent. Rodolfo remains behind as the others head for the cafe to celebrate.

Mimi, a delicate young girl, knocks on the door, looking for a light for her candle. She seems ill and faints when she come in. Rodolfo revives her, invites her by the fire and offers her some wine.

he remembers she has dropped her key, but as she and Rodolfo try to find it, the wind blows out her candle again, and Rodolfo, relishing the opportunity to be with this lovely girl in the dark, secretly blows out his candle as well. He manages to find the key, but puts it in his pocket. It doesn’t take long for the poor, young couple to fall in love.

And all this is just in the first act.

For tickets to these or other upcoming shows at QCC — including “Damn Yankees” on Nov. 10 and “The Sunshine Boys” on Nov. 18 — call 718-631-6311.

Reach Qguide Editor David Glenn by e-mail at glenn@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

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