Lea Michele to replace Beanie Feldstein in Broadway's 'Funny Girl'

Lea Michele to replace Beanie Feldstein in Broadway’s ‘Funny Girl’

Life’s candy today for Lea Michele.

On Sept. 6, the actress will replace Beanie Feldstein in the Broadway revival of “Funny Girl.” Michele — a known superfan of Barbra Streisand, who originated the role of Fanny Brice onstage in 1964 — memorably covered the show’s anthemic “Don’t Rain on My Parade” in the first season of television’s “Glee” and later performed the song at the 2010 Tony Awards. She publicly expressed interest in playing the part during a talk show appearance years ago, fueling fascination on social media with the idea of ​​her taking it on, and has been rumored as the replacement lead since Feldstein’s exit was announced.

Michele has history with Fanny Brice; her “Glee” character, Rachel Berry, performed several “Funny Girl” songs on the show and even landed the role in the fictional universe’s revival. On Monday afternoon, after that storyline became a reality, Michele wrote on Instagram that “a dream come true is an understatement.”

The revival of “Funny Girl,” a well-received production that was adapted into a successful Streisand-starring film in 1968, opened in late April following years of rumors and subsequent delays. After Feldstein took a break from the show because she tested positive for the coronavirus, she announced in June that her last performance would be Sept. 25. The production confirmed the news on Twitter and added that actress Jane Lynch, who played Mrs. Brice, would also be exiting then.

Feldstein then shared in a statement posted to Instagram Sunday night that she would be leaving “Funny Girl” at the end of July — two months earlier than the initially announced date. She attributed her early departure — a highly unusual Broadway occurrence — to the production deciding to “take the show in a different direction.”

“I will never forget this experience and from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every single person who came to the August Wilson [Theatre] for the love and support you have shown me and our amazing cast and crew,” the statement reads. “The people I have had the great joy of bringing Funny Girl to life with every night, both on and off stage, are all remarkably talented and exceptional humans.”

Lynch is now also exiting earlier than planned, taking her final bow on Sept. 4. Mrs. Brice will be played by four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh. (Standby Julie Benko will play Fanny Brice in August, and on Thursdays beginning in September.)

“Funny Girl” received largely negative reviews. Variety’s Frank Rizzo referred to it as “underpowered.” The New York Times’s Jesse Green argued that the revival “shows why it took so long.” While making note of her zealous nature, critics panned Feldstein’s vocal abilities, particularly in contrast with Streisand’s.

The Washington Post’s Peter Marks stated that “while, for instance, you believed outright that Streisand was a star, with Feldstein, your foremost belief is that she believes she’s a star.”

According to weekly statistics from the Broadway League, a trade organization, “Funny Girl” filled the August Wilson to 97.8 percent capacity in mid-May, probably because of the strength of pre-review advance sales. By early July, that number dropped to just below 75 percent.

This piece has been updated.

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