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

ByScottie Andrew, CNNWire
Monday, July 11, 2022
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NEW YORK CITY -- Broadway's next "Funny Girl" will be Lea Michele, who is replacing Beanie Feldstein after the "Booksmart" star announced she'd exit the show earlier than expected.

The production revealed Monday that the "Glee" star would succeed Feldstein, whose run will end July 31, in the leading role of Fanny Brice, the famed comedian and vaudeville performer.

Feldstein announced her departure on Sunday, writing that after the production "decided to take the show in a different direction, she made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than anticipated." She said playing Fanny had been a "lifelong dream."

She'll end her "Funny Girl" run almost two months earlier than her previously announced date of September 25.

CNN reached out to representatives for Feldstein and "Funny Girl" for comment.

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Michele will begin her tenure on September 4. After Feldstein exits, her standby Julie Benko will perform until Michele joins the cast, the production said.

Feldstein's costar Jane Lynch will depart the production in September, "Funny Girl" producers announced, and will be replaced by Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh. Lynch appeared on "Glee" alongside Michele.

Poor reviews plagued 'Funny Girl' revival

Broadway's first revival of "Funny Girl" has been beleaguered by poor reviews, many of them taking aim at Feldstein's performance. New York Magazine's Helen Shaw wrote that Feldstein's "voice lets her down" throughout the show and that when it comes to the musical's beloved melodies, "Feldstein cannot sing them."

Even if reviews had been more favorable, Feldstein had massive shoes to fill: Barbra Streisand originated the part on stage and in the film adaptation, winning an Oscar for her performance. The climactic Act One closer, "Don't Rain on My Parade," became one of Streisand's most iconic songs, and Fanny became synonymous with Babs.

This year's production of "Funny Girl," a musical retelling of Brice's career and love affair with a con artist, premiered in April. It received only one Tony nomination, for scene-stealing dancer and supporting actor Jared Grimes.

Michele performed a well-known version of "Don't Rain on My Parade" on "Glee," and her character angled to play the lead role on Broadway in a fictional revival. Her casting was expected among some Broadway fans, but not all welcomed the news.

In 2020, Michele was accused by "Glee" costar Samantha Marie Ware of creating a toxic environment on the set, and online, some "Funny Girl" fans said that her casting dishonored Ware's allegations.

Though Feldstein's Broadway run was cut short, her summer kicked off strong: Last month, she got engaged to her partner, producer Bonnie Chance Roberts.


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