Lea Michele To Replace Beanie Feldstein In The Broadway ‘Funny Girl’ Revival After Backstage Drama
Show producers have officially revealed that Lea Michele will be taking over the iconic role of Fanny Brice from Booksmart star Beanie Feldstein in Broadway’s Funny Girl. Feldstein will also be stepping away from the role at the end of the month, cutting her intended run as the character short.
Michele will have her first night in the role on September 6, and understudy Julie Benko will play the starring character between July 31 and Michele’s premiere. Feldstein’s performance solicited a mixed reception, and the show only received one Tony Award nomination this past May.
Tovah Feldshuh was also announced as the new Mrs. Brice, who Jane Lynch was playing. Lynch is, unfortunately, departing the show on September 4, just too early for there to be a mini Glee cast reunion with Michele. Ramin Karimloo and Jared Grimes are staying on in the roles of Nick Arnstein and Eddie Ryan respectively. Grimes picked up the show’s sole Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.
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Feldstein wrote a statement on Instagram, saying the choice to leave the show early was her own. She also mentioned that she made the decision because “the production decided to take the show in a different direction.”
Page Six reported conflicting accounts of behind-the-scenes drama with Feldstein’s departure. One insider claimed producers had turned against her and “basically fired” her before the post went live. Still, another allegedly said they were only informed about the Instagram post 30 minutes prior to it going live.
Feldstein was adopting a role first held by vocal heavyweight Barbra Streisand, so it was a titanic challenge to live up to fans’ and critics’ expectations for the famous songs in Funny Girl. Some reviews noted that her vocals didn’t quite live up to their powerful original renditions, but the humor and warmth of her acting did elicit praise as well.
Not everyone was congratulating Michele on the news. Glee actress Samantha Ware, who accused Michele of racially-motivated abuse on the show’s set, wrote online that the casting was an example of how “Broadway upholds whiteness.”
Yes, I’m online today. Yes, I see y’all. Yes, I care. Yes, im affected. Yes, I’m human. Yes, I’m Black. Yes, I was abused. Yes, my dreams were tainted. Yes, Broadway upholds whiteness. Yes, Hollywood does the same. Yes, silence is complicity. Yes, I’m loud. Yes, I’d do it again.
— SAMEYA (@Sammie_Ware) July 11, 2022
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