Not So Blonde After All

By Elise Darby

In Legally Blonde: The Musical – The Search for Elle Woods, Elle Woods is perceived by many as a typical blonde sorority girl. However, she remains driven and proves everyone wrong; she accomplishes what they would have deemed impossible for her. As a Harvard graduate at the top of her class, she becomes an independent and fearless woman; she no longer seeks self-worth in men after coming to the realization that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to on her own.  

Elle Woods dreams of marrying Warner Huntington III… the “campus catch.” Her love for the man becomes part of her identity—she can’t live without him. Her sorority sisters encourage this relationship in the song “Omigod You Guys,” telling Elle they are a “perfect match” and that her “future’s taking off” only once he proposes to her. In turn, Elle believes that her future revolves around the proposal; without Warner, she doesn’t have a plan. In society, it is common for the woman to seek their identity in a man. Additionally, it is stereotypical for women to care more about fashion, love, and the materialistic goods rather than making a future for themselves. As the song continues, the sorority sisters tell Elle that her and Warner make the perfect couple because they “both have such great taste in clothes.” In addition to their materialistic comment, the girls seem more excited about the “four carats” and “princess cut” of the “huge engagement ring” than the actual validity of the relationship. Continuing, the sorority sisters excitingly sing that “now that a man chose [Elle], [her] life begins today.” They also told her to “make him a happy home” and “strive not to look [her] age” or else he will not be as interested. Women face a certain stereotype that they need to keep the house well kept, be eager to please the husband, and be beautiful in order to have a successful marriage and happy husband. Additionally, her friends are telling her that her life only begins after a man proposes, implying that until there is a ring on her finger, the rest of her life is a waste. A man should not, and does not, define a woman’s life. Similarly, a man should not get to choose his wife, they must mutually want to be together.  

At dinner with Warner, Elle is expecting a proposal. Things take a complete turn, however. To begin, Warner tells Elle that all men dream of finding a girl who looks like Elle. Did you notice how he complimented her physical traits rather than what is on the inside? He tells Elle that he needs to date someone serious. In the song “Serious,” he defines this by telling her he needs someone who is “less of a Marilyn and more of a Jackie” and somebody “classy and not too tacky.” Warner is basically claiming she is not sophisticated or smart enough for him, she is only good for her looks. She is not a serious girlfriend that he, a Harvard student, should pursue, rather she is seen as another dumb blonde. Warner, like many egotistical men in our society, talks down to Elle and makes her feel inferior. Elle concludes that in order to win Warner’s love, she must become the type of girl Warner is looking for. She makes a plan to change her whole life… a plan that many women feel pressured to make in order to please a man. In the song “What You Want,” she explains that she is going to go to Harvard to show Warner that she not only has the looks, but the brains too. She will “impress him with [her] high IQ.” Elle, like other women, is living her life for a man, not for herself. She is eager to please Warner. The gender roles and societal stereotype that have been formed within society is evident: a woman should live to make their man happy.  

Elle attends Harvard for a “love [she] has to win.” While she can live “without sun or valet,” she can’t live without Warner. Her existence and identity are centered in him. Everyone doubts Elle, but she works hard and is accepted into Harvard. As she enters the university in her bright, pink outfit, she informs Warner that she is a student now, as well. Warner is in disbelief and did not think it was possible for his airhead, sorority-obsessed ex-girlfriend to get into such an academic institution. Elle simply acts like it was easy to be accepted.  

Mr. Callahan, an intense Harvard professor, instructs her first class. He announces that he hires four interns each year from the class to work at his law firm, and each student will leave with a guaranteed career. Elle was told she had guts by the intimidating professor and was kicked out of class on the first day for not doing the reading. At this point, Elle is far from earning the internship, but she does not let that bring her down.  

After class, Warner introduces his new girlfriend from Harvard to Elle. Immediately, Elle searches for new ways to be the girl Warner desires. In the real world, although it is saddening, it is not uncommon for women to search for ways to make a man fall in love with them, seeking love and validation rather than self-acceptance. In Elle’s circumstance, she decides she should go brunette to please Warner. Afterall, if she is a brunette, she won’t be labeled as “dumb blonde.” She tells the hairstylist, Paulette, that she must make her a brunette because “that is what Warner wants.” Not only did Elle change her lifestyle and living situation for a man, but now she wants to change her appearance, too. Luckily, Paulette convinces Elle to stay blonde.  

Vivian, Warner’s girlfriend, invites Elle Woods to a party, but out of spite, she tells her it is a costume party. Elle shows up in a pink, revealing bunny costume, while everyone else is dresses nicely and modestly. After seeing Elle, Warner admits that sometimes he misses the old days. As always, Warner belittles Elle, and reminds her that she has no chance of getting the internship with Callahan. Due to Warner’s criticism, Elle wishes she “were dead” because “instead of a wedding in love,” she is a “total laughing stock” and someone people can “just mock.” Elle wants to succeed for Warner, not for herself. Her existence and happiness, at this point, is based on Warner. In general, women let how men perceive them affect them in great ways and will change themselves to win over a man.  

Emmett, a law student that wants to see Elle succeed, tells Elle that she needs a “chip on [her] shoulder” to make it through school. Emmett puts Elle on the right track: he helps her study and convinces her to take advantage of the education in front of her. Rather than focusing on looks and beauty, he wants her to start working on her brain. Instead of going home for the holidays, Elle stays and studies with Emmett; he is pushing her and encouraging her to learn. Elle Woods is going to show everyone what she is made of and prove everyone wrong. In the song “Chip On My Shoulder,” Emmett points out that each time Warner is present, her “IQ goes down to 40, maybe less.” Warner is the obstacle standing in between Elle and her success. This realization sparks a fire within Elle, she now has a chip on her shoulder and “instead of doodling hearts” she is ready to show Warner everything she is made of. She is going to put success and education first and prove everyone wrong. In fact, in the next class, she wins a case against Warner. Her intelligence is now shining through. She is slowly becoming less of the stereotypical “dumb blonde sorority girl,” and becoming more of a Jackie. After class Callahan even asks for her resume for his internship. 

The day Warner proposes to Vivian in the classroom, Callahan simultaneously posts his lists of interns. At first, Elle was saddened, but then she notices her name on the list. In the song “So Much Better,” Elle’s worth is evident. Immediately, the proposal is not as important; Elle is finding that she is an independent woman. This internship is the validation and security she needs to recognize her worth. She tells Warner that she got the internship, and he can’t even believe it. Elle, who is booming with self-confidence, sings to Warner that making the list “beats the first time that [they] kissed.” She is able to see her self-improvement and points out that Waner’s “judgement was poor” when he thought she was dumb. Elle finally knows her value; she is no longer dependent on a man. Instead, she is an intelligent young woman, who is making a name for herself and moving onto bigger and better things in life. 

As the musical progresses, Emmett and Elle become closer. She buys him clothes and tells him it is a “payment in kind” because he always “saw beyond all the blonde to [her] mind.” Unlike Warner, Emmett never saw Elle as a dumb blonde; he saw her potential.  

When Paulette becomes interested in the UPS guy, Elle and her sorority sisters teach her how to do the “bend and snap.” This oversexualizing dance suggests that women must display their bodies in order to get attention from men. In fact, the song “Bend and Snap” starts with the line “look at my ass, look at my thighs.” The song suggests that attention from a man must be gained through their bodies. A sorority sister insists that “the more you jump and scream, the sexier you seem” in the eyes of men. In society today, the gender roles between men and women are similar: women are often seen as objects. Men often lust after women’s bodies, and in turn, many girls feel pressured to use their sexuality to attract men.  

Returning to work, however, Elle is part of the legal team for a murder. Elle makes an amazing case, which leads to the winning of the round. Callahan applauds Elle for trusting her gut and announces that she has shown more “legal smarts” than most of his staff members. He tells her she is not only a good lawyer, but a “great one.” Warner, on the other hand, was told to “be useful” by getting a cup of coffee for Callahan. The underdog is taking over. Elle is doing better than the man that thought he was too good for her. The roles have been reversed.  

After everyone is gone, Callahan forces a kiss on Elle, and she slaps him in return. Since she did not allow it, she is fired from the internship. In the song “Legally Blonde,” Elle is ready to call it quits. She is ready to go “back to what [she] was before” and just be “legally blonde.” She feels defeated and hopeless. Saying bye to Paulette, she tells her that she is only seen as “one big blonde joke.” With some words of encouragement, Elle changes back into her glamourous pink attire and is ready to fight. She is going back to the trial and not giving up. This time, however, she is going back in her own style. The phrase “legally blonde” is turned into a positive thing. Elle, being the powerful woman she is, wins the murder case for her client. 

After the impressive trial, Warner—the man who once broke her heart—proposes to her. While this is everything that she wanted years ago, she has grown. She declines his proposal; she has been able to see how much she can accomplish without him. In the end, Elle came so far: she is the Valedictorian at Harvard and proves so many people wrong. Warner on the other hand decides to quit practicing law and models. Elle, who was told she was not serious enough, now has the big career. In her final speech, Elle thanks those who doubted her, because it taught her how to prevail. Then, Elle proposes to Emmett, which once again switches up the gender roles. In the end, Elle took matters into her own hands. Although proposals are usually done by the man, Elle is a strong woman and does not need to live by societies norms.  

Everyone doubted Elle Woods. At times, even Elle Woods doubted Elle Woods. After some self-reflection, however, she discovers her value. She lives life for herself now—never a man. Her perseverance and strength empower women and provides a beacon of encouragement for all those who are consistently told they can’t.

Forbidden Love: Maria as Pocahontas

By Elise Darby

Pocahontas and West Side Story share a major similarity: both productions display a story of forbidden love. Just like Pocahontas and Captain John Smith, the love between Tony and Maria is disapproved of because of their different races. Both characters want the love they have never been allowed to experience, providing them with a unique taste of the culture they have been taught all their lives to despise. In both Pocahontas and West Side Story, the separation of communities creates unparalleled love stories when the two groups are at last united, speaking to the way groups, whose very existence seem to oppose each other, belong in harmony with one another.

From the beginning of West Side Story, the two different communities are separated, and their differences are highlighted. Throughout the production, it is always the Sharks versus the Jets; they do not mix. The Sharks and the Jets are divided by their ethnicity. The Puerto Rican members are all a part of the Sharks, while the Jets are a part of the white community. The ensembles never intertwine. In fact, the Jets and the Sharks despise each other. They are constantly arguing, picking on each other, and creating chaos. In front of the cops, however, they appear civilized to avoid getting in any sort of trouble with the law.

As an ensemble, their performances are divided between the two groups. In fact, their dancing is a way for the two groups to express their culture. When they dance, the movements are different within the two groups and the number is clearly divided amongst the Jets and the Sharks. For example, in West Side Story’s, “Dance at the Gym,” the Puerto Rican women move their hips, raise one hand into the air, and use the other hand to hold their skirt, which is a common dance move for their culture. On the other hand, the American Jets take big strides; they look stiff, awkward, and their dance moves do not look as swift as the Sharks. The American Jets’ dance moves would be easily described as “white.” As the Sharks take over the gym floor again, the room is filled with claps to the beat of the music. As two of the characters dance, they move elegantly with one another. The Jets, however, are more focused on flips, tricks, and sudden movements with their arms, while the Jets are twirling, moving elegantly around the room, and holding hands with one another. The Puerto Rican Sharks seem to have a more romantic, graceful movement to their dancing, which is similar to their culture that is full of romance and grace. On the contrary, the American Sharks dance sharply, and their dance moves display their “whiteness.” As the group dance ends, the division between the Sharks and the Jets quickly halts as Tony’s eyes align with Maria’s. The screen blurs out the rest of the dancers and the differences of race seem to disappear for a moment. As Maria and Tony begin to dance, they do not touch; they keep their distance at first. The background dancers have their arms together, making a bridge with their dance partner as Tony and Maria first touch, symbolizing the bridge Tony and Maria are making between the segregation of the Jets and the Sharks. As they slowly lean in for a kiss, Maria’s brother, Bernardo, quickly interrupts and stops Tony. He questions his sister, “Don’t you see he’s one of them?” and she replies by saying, “No, I saw only him.” Maria does not see Tony for his race; the color of his skin is not a factor for her. Bernardo persists and says, “There is only one thing he wants from a Puerto Rican girl” and Tony defends himself by claiming, “That’s a lie.” Bernardo takes his sister away from Tony and makes her leave the dance. He will not tolerate any of his Sharks mixing with the Jets—especially his little sister. Just as Pocahontas’ father, Chief Powhatan, disapproves of the relationship between Pocahontas and John Smith, Bernardo is against his sister’s interest in Tony. Chief Powhatan wants Pocahontas to marry someone of the same race: a native warrior. Likewise, Bernardo wants Maria to be focused on men from the Puerto Rican race, not an American Jet.

The Puerto Rican members of the Sharks are constantly being ridiculed by the Jets. The tension between the two groups seems to continue growing as the production continues on. Although there is a sense of belonging felt within the two groups, the women that are a part of the Sharks make it clear that they are enjoying living in Manhattan. In the song, “America,” the women sing that “life is alright in America.” However, the men quickly comment back that life is only good “if you’re white in America” or as “long as you stay on your own side.” Although the Sharks have a clique of their own and stick together, the community that they live in is very divided. Through this song, we are able see the discrimination the Puerto Rican’s face, simply because of their ethnicity and race. They are seen and treated as a minority; in the eyes of the Jets, they are second class citizens. The Jets are a group of “American” boys. They, too, have a sense of belonging within their clique. In fact, Riff reminds one of the Jets that they are “never alone” and that they are always “well protected” with the other Jets around. The loyalty that the Jets have with one another make them strong and give them power. However, the Jets and the Sharks never join together simply because of the color of their skin. Racism is the biggest reason for the divide between the Jets and the Sharks—it is why they do not get along. Both the Jets and the Sharks have one goal: to be considered better than one another.

Pocahontas’ relationship with John Smith was not supported since they were not both from the same ethnicity. In West Side Story’s “I Feel Pretty,” Maria dances around the room with joy for her newfound love. Her friends, on the other hand, claim that “she isn’t in love, she’s merely insane.” The other girls do not think it is possible for this relationship to work with Tony because they look different. Later, after Maria’s friends leave the store they work at, Tony sneaks in to meet Maria. Their relationship is secretive and requires a lot of tiptoeing around—just like John Smith and Pocahontas. At the store, Tony and Maria pretend they are living in a world that it is socially acceptable for them to be together and in love. Using the mannequins, they act like they are meeting each other’s parents. Eventually, they even pretend they are getting married. In the world they live in now, this seems like a dream. Sadly, getting married to one another and meeting each other’s families seems like an impossible future for the couple. As they sing in unison, they sing that “even death won’t part [them] now.” The test of their love through death comes sooner than they had hope for, however.

Pocahontas’ father does not support of the relationship she has with John Smith, and neither do other members in the community. She is supposed to stay away from the Englishmen. Throughout West Side Story, Tony and Maria lose the sense of belonging they had felt within their separate groups. They want to be together, but no one else wants this relationship to last. Their communities do not support their love. No matter how much fighting and chaos occurs between their cliques, they do not separate. As the communities come together and begin to fight one another, people end up dead. Bernardo kills the leader of the Jets, Riff. In the midst of anger, Tony grabs the knife and stabs Maria’s brother to defend his fellow Jet. Chino runs to Maria to tell her Bernardo is dead, but instead of asking about her brother and other Sharks in the rumble, she is worried about Tony—not the people of her own race. Even after Tony killed Maria’s brother, all she wants is for Tony to hold her as she cries in his arms. After Tony leaves, Anita comes into Maria’s room and sees Tony running down the street. Anita angrily exclaims that Tony “is one of them.” The groups, which are divided based on their race and ethnicity, are referred to as “they” and “them,” never “we” or “us.” Anita begins to sing “A Boy Like That” and encourages Maria to “stick to her own kind.” Anita is trying to get Maria to dump the Jet and be loyal to her culture as a Puerto Rican Shark. After all, Tony killed her brother. The love that Maria has for Tony is being put to its biggest test. If she stays with Tony, she is betraying her culture, her family, and all of the other Puerto Rican Sharks. Yet, Maria’s love for Tony remains strong. Comparably, Powhatan is about to execute John Smith, but Pocahontas stops him. Like Maria, her love was being put to the test; she defends John Smith despite the negative feelings other members in her culture possess.

As Anita enters into Doc’s store, the Jets begin to throw her around, make racist remarks, and attempt to rape her. Due to her ethnicity and gender, the Jets see her as inferior. In return to their cruel behavior, Anita lies and says that Maria is dead. In response, Tony searches for Chino; he wishes to be dead too. In the midst of his search, he sees Maria alive, but he is shot. He dies in Maria’s arms. Throughout the film, Tony and Maria are committed to one another. Before dying, they talked about getting away from Manhattan. With the Jets in the Sharks around, they would never have been able to live peacefully with one another. Before dying, Tony and Maria talk about leaving together, running away. Their loyalty between one another is strong up until Tony’s last breath. Maria tells both the Sharks and the Jets that they all killed Riff, Bernardo, and Tony with their hate.

Despite its fairytale romance, West Side Story did not end with a “happily ever after” like the princess movies. Everyone did not remain healthy and alive. Their love could not continue on. But, despite Tony and Maria never getting their perfect ending together, the two’s union makes sweeping cultural statements about how group hatred will only separate communities with the potential for love, acceptance, and shared growth. Despite its tragic ending, the musical suggests the necessity for bridging social, racial, and cultural gaps in society, creating a nationwide love story.

Funny Girls Break Glass Ceilings

By Elise Darby

Smart. Hilarious. Talented. All of these words are not typical characteristics used to describe Jewish women in the early 1900s, but the character of Fanny Brice is uniquely beautiful. In the production of Funny Girl, Sheridan Smith’s Fanny Brice reverses stereotypes held for the gender and race roles during this time period by presenting Jewish woman in a bright light. Fanny Brice breaks the glass ceiling held by society through her talent and comedy, not her looks. Fanny Brice’s character makes groundbreaking headway within the roles of gender and race; she is idolized by many for the actions she took towards shattering the glass ceiling. 

Although Fanny, based on the standards held by men, is unattractive, she possesses an alluring air of confidence throughout her musical numbers. While other slim, tall, and stunning Ziegfeld Follies that Fanny is constantly compared to merely stay in the background, Fanny uses bold and flirtatious—yet humorous—choreography during her performances to engage the audience. Sheridan Smith’s acting choices allow the audience to understand the humor behind the production, while highlighting the race and gender roles. The theatre industry, in particular, is critical of women’s beauty. Even the talented and amusing Fanny Brice could not find a job within the theatre industry at first. Mr. Ziegfeld originally cut her because she did not look like the traditional Follie. Woman are seen as objects of desire. In the song “If A Girl Isn’t Pretty,” the lyrics suggest that if a girl does not “shine in every detail,” wear a “standard dress,” or does not have a figure that a man’s “wife can’t substitute,” she should “dump the stage and try another route.” Men hold woman to an exceedingly high expectation within the theatre industry, which discourages Fanny. Still, she persists. Fanny breaks the typical “showgirl” stereotype. She does not have the same look or appeal as the Ziegfeld Follies that surround her; in comparison to their “ideal” height, weight, and facial structure, Fanny possesses traditional Jewish features that, although beautiful in their uniqueness, are not the typical conceptions of beauty. Unlike the other women on stage, Fanny dresses modestly: she does not wear short, revealing dresses; her outfits provide coverage and fit loosely. In one of the numbers, for example, the Follies are featured in short, seductive dresses that highlight their slim figures and long legs. Meanwhile, Fanny takes the stage in pants that are stuffed to make her look wider, a mustache, and glasses. The outfits that Fanny chooses to wear contrast the typical outfits worn by women featured on stage; she is redefining gender roles. She wears different styled clothing, and she is built differently, but she continues to embrace her own unique beauty.  

Fanny is not used to attention from men. Because of this, when Nick Arnstein demonstrates an interest towards her, Fanny quickly becomes uncomfortable and awkward. When Nick begins his fascination with Fanny, her body language makes her discomfort unquestionable. She constantly positions herself away from Nick, avoids eye-contact, and twiddles her fingers. She is clearly very nervous and tense around Arnstein. Fanny Brice typically uses humor to hide her true feelings. Fanny Brice can stuff a pillow under a wedding dress during a performance with confidence, yet romance and spending a night out with a man is daunting. Sheridan Smith chooses to appear bashful around Nick, which causes the audience to understand that Fanny still gets anxious and insecure despite the bold and comedic personality she presents on the stage. Nick Arnstein made Fanny Brice feel beautiful, which is something a man has never done for her. Nick breaks the societal norm that men uphold of lusting for beautiful, flawless Follie-type girls; instead, Nick falls in love with Fanny, who is uniquely stunning.  

In the performance of “His Love Makes Me Beautiful,” Fanny goes off script and stuffs a pillow under her wedding dress. Additionally, she presents a hand-held mirror in front of her face. As she looks at her reflection, she mocks her own appearance by making an unattractive face, thus implying she is not beautiful, like the women that surround her. Since she is not considered attractive by society, she uses humor and comedic gestures to hide her appearance. She is confident, though not conventionally pretty. Sheridan’s acting clearly shows that Fanny Brice chooses to make a mockery out of her appearance. In fact, presenting herself as a beautiful Follie on stage makes her uncomfortable. The only way that Fanny is able to seem confident in her looks is through humor.   

During this time, there is a received idea that within a relationship, the women rely on the men. Fanny, however, redefined this stereotype. In Funny Girl, the roles are reversed: Nick Arnstein is dependent on Fanny Brice. Additionally, both Fanny and Nick are seen equally. While Nick Arnstein has a powerful name and is well-known within the theatre industry, Fanny becomes just as important. She makes a name for herself and allows her career to soar. Arnstein even admits that Fanny “scares him to death.” To be clear, Fanny Brice—a woman—scares the mighty, impactful Mr. Arnstein. Fanny is creative and entertaining. In fact, when she began to work for Mr. Ziegfeld as a Follie, she would not always remain obedient. Despite Mr. Ziegfeld’s stern tone and position of authority, she would create her own story; typically, it worked in her favor. For example, after the pillow incident during the wedding scene, her boss made her apologize. However, her boss also apologized and admits Fanny not only performed incredibly, but her spontaneity and imagination enhanced the performance. Fanny disregards the male dominance and sticks to her own instincts. Usually, women would be forced into a submissive role, allowing their male employers and those in higher positions to retain superiority. As a performer, Fanny is seen as brilliant: she is smart, independent, humorous, and confident.  

In the end, the men in Fanny’s life became reliant on her. Fanny Brice—the once overlooked performer—is now the star of the show. Mr. Ziegfeld, as well as Nick Arnstein, could not afford to lose her. After Nick Arnstein and Fanny Brice get married, Nick must swallow his pride as the provider of the family and accept financial help from his wife. Nick does not like the idea of having his wife support him financially. After all, the stigma is that the man supports his wife—never the other way around. He needs the help, but he is reluctant to accept it. He repeats that this aid from Fanny is a “temporary arrangement.” Nick does not make it to Fanny’s opening night. Rather than falling back to the typical “norm” of women at this time and remaining silent, Fanny expresses her anger, remains strong in her thoughts, and conveys how she feels towards Nick. She stands up for herself—she is defying old standards. However, Nick admits that he missed her performance because he could not swallow his pride—he is being charged with embezzlement.  

Instead of accepting that the husband messed up, Fanny’s mother convinces her that she caused Nick to commit this crime. After all, the man is the one who is supposed to have the money, the power, and the dominance within a household. Fanny, who has clearly become independent, financially stable, and successful, is hurting her husband’s pride. Her mother tells her that “a man wants to matter” and that Fanny “can’t make someone feel that small” if she wants the relationship to work. She tells her that she must “let him be a man,” implying that he needs to obtain the dominance and control within the marriage to fit the gender role. In response to the conversation with her mother, Fanny decides that she will make a change. She will make Nick feel like he is the boss. She will allow him to get his way. She will conform to the societal norms expected for her role as a wife. Fanny begins to believe that in order for her husband to be happy in their marriage, she has to change how she acts—she cannot be as independent and self-sufficient—or he won’t feel like a man. Before Fanny could make these drastic changes within their marriage, Nick decides it is best if they separate. He could not handle being inferior to Fanny—a woman.  

 While ending the marriage, Nick refers to Fanny as a “funny girl.” In turn, Fanny relates her worth to her humor. As she sits at her dresser, with tears streaming down her face, she repeats the word funny. She sarcastically makes remarks about being “good for a laugh,” even though she isn’t the right woman for Nick. Suddenly, the saddening, slow tone becomes more upbeat and livelier. Fanny begins to realize her own self-worth; she is reminded of who she is.  She beings to sing “I’m The Greatest Star,” which she also sang at the beginning of the musical to demonstrate her confidence as a performer despite her lack of conventional beauty. Once again, this song inspires confidence and dependence within Fanny. Her tears suddenly fade away, the power is back in her voice, and she is back on her feet. As she strips off her robe, her sparkling, eye-catching dress is highlighted—she looks and feels good. She sings the lyrics, “no looking back” and “get ready for me world, because I’m a comer,” in a powerful stance in center stage. Finally, she belts out that nobody—not even Nick Arnstein— “is going to rain on [her] parade.” Men do not define her. She has made it big. No one, including influential men, can ruin the success she has created for herself. 

Aside from gender roles, Sheridan Smith’s character as Fanny Brice changed the way that Jewish women were perceived at the time. The comedy and vast amount of humor was used to change Jewish mockery. Funny Girl provides hope, a sense of integration, and normalizes being both American and Jewish. The production features a successful, stereotypical American man marrying a Jewish woman. In addition to their marriage being uncommon because of the racial differences, Fanny, the Jewish woman, served as a provider for the family. While the American man, who was typically praised and known for his success and wealth, began struggling financially, Fanny gained wealth and became well-off financially. Additionally, as a Jewish woman, Fanny was able to live an “American” lifestyle. Funny Girl broke the stereotypes that were held against Jewish women and portrays a direct idea of what life as an American Jewish woman looks like. Despite her racial identity and the standards that come with it, Fanny is humorous, sharp, and self-reliant. Fanny never compromised her beliefs or her appearance in order to gain success. She simply worked around the fact that she was not considered traditionally pretty. Fanny is a proud Jewish woman; she serves as a representation for other Jewish women as well. She advocates for natural beauty and talent. Other Jewish women are able to look up to Fanny and identify with her because of her background. Back then, it was uncommon for Jewish females to be role models. Overall, Funny Girl makes a clear statement that Jewish people are also Americans. Despite being surrounded by Follies, who are gorgeous, American girls, Fanny makes a name for herself and becomes a star.  

In her revolutionary depiction of realistic beauty, despite being surrounded by women regarded as more beautiful and objectifiable, Fanny Brice utilizes her limitations to avoid the glass ceiling set by women who are outwardly more beautiful. Her depiction of intelligence, humor, and ambition reflects the ideal role model for women striving to find their identity while surrounded by negative influences in the media giving them insurmountable expectations to meet to be considered “beautiful.” Funny girls truly break glass ceilings.