by Patricia Grandjean
Aug 3, 2011
02:37 PM
Box Office

Funny Girl

Funny Girl

It just was announced that New Haven's own Lauren Ambrose will be taking on the lead in the upcoming Broadway revival of Funny Girl, the role that helped launched the career of Barbra Streisand.

In 2009, Michael J. Bandler wrote a profile of the former "Six Feet Under" actress for Connecticut Magazine, just as she was getting ready to star in another star-studded work on the Great White Way, Exit the King.

Here's the piece --

It’s already been a banner year for New Haven’s Laura Anne D’Ambruoso, aka Lauren Ambrose. Her grandmother (“an incredible lady—she taught me everything I know”) reached her centenary in February, her son Orson (with her husband, photographer Sam Handel) turned two, and now she’s back on Broadway, doing what she loves—“figuring out the mystery” of Eugene Ionesco’s Exit the King (at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre through June 14), with a company of marquee actors including Geoffrey Rush, Susan Sarandon and Andrea Martin.

Ambrose, 31, has built different fan bases this past decade among cult film devotees (as a surfer chick in Psycho Beach Party) and cable-TV watchers (as a rebellious, imperiled young woman on “Six Feet Under”), but it’s the stage that’s been the most embracing medium for her. It’s where, at 14, she first blossomed, in an off-Broadway show, while in the throes of a peripatetic adolescence that would take her through three high schools (Choate Rosemary Hall, Wilbur Cross and ACES Educational Center for the Arts) after elementary school at St. Brendan. Of that debut, she remembers, “I really responded to being in that world and just knew I wanted to pursue it.” Indeed, sometime later, in 2004, she was so “hellbent on fitting theater into my life” that she played in a Sam Shepard work being staged in London while shooting “Six Feet Under” in Los Angeles, flying back and forth regularly between the two.

It so happens that there’s little this daughter of a caterer and an interior designer does professionally that isn’t enveloped in risk—from her memorable takes on Juliet and Ophelia in Shakespearean ventures in Central Park the past two summers and a recent portrayal of a young Hasidic woman in a TV movie to her current role, as the empathetic wife of a megalomaniac monarch.

That’s what energizes her—parts “that are different for me, and scary, that I don’t understand.” During rehearsals in February she said she felt “like I’m underwater with it—and that seems to be a feeling I usually get from the work I do, the feeling of not knowing what it is, having to surrender to it before I figure out what it’s really about. It’s terrifying, but thrilling, to be out of control, to have to trust the actors and director I’m working with and use all my emotional and analytical skills.”

Next up, in mid-October, is her voiceover for a character in the animated feature Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze’s take on the classic by Maurice Sendak, of Ridgefield. Which “wild thing” is she? “If you pick up the book and see the wild thing with the big round face and the long red hair parted in the middle, there’s no mistake! It’s uncanny! It’s me!”

Funny Girl

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Box Office is your guide to entertainment across Connecticut, courtesy of senior editor Pat Grandjean. If it's a chat with an actor or actress, previewing a new play at a regional theater, the latest on a state celebrity's new movie, or recommendations for seeing and doing, let Box Office be one of your hubs.

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