In ‘Funny Girl’, Lea Michele is inside, Beanie Feldstein is outside

NEW YORK – Lea Michele has been selected to star in and lead the Broadway revival of the besieged “Funny Girl” this fall, an announcement made just hours after current star Beanie Feldstein revealed she would leave the musical earlier than expected because the show had a “different direction”.

The high-profile casting change represents a further step toward a return to the spotlight and respectability of Michele after former “Glee” co-stars accused in 2020 the behavioral actor who was portrayed as racist and intimidating. .

Michele, who began her Broadway career and starred in the original “Spring Awakening” recently returned to work with the documentary “Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known.” In many ways, her rise to play Ziegfeld Follies comedian Fanny Brice — the role Barbra Streisand played in film — was foreshadowed by Michele singing several “Funny Girl” songs during her “Glee” career.


After the show’s formal announcement, Michele hailed her next professional step, saying “a dream come true is an understatement” on Instagram. He did not mention Feldstein.

Broadway is often known for its smooth, seamless transitions after the A-list stars abandon shows, in part to protect multimillion-dollar programs, indicating that the backstage machinations of “Funny Girl” were tense at best.

In an extraordinary step, Feldstein addressed social media on Sunday to say that although playing the heroine of “Funny Girl” was a “lifelong dream,” she could no longer continue due to the producers’ choices and would leave earlier, on the 31st. of July.

“Once the production decided to take the program in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to move away earlier than expected,” he wrote. Her Instagram post was remarkably liked by Broadway veteran Ramin Karimloo, who plays Brice’s love interest in “Funny Girl” and follows.


Fanny Brice, on hold, Julie Benko will play the lead role from August 2 to September. 4. Then Michele will intervene from September 6th. That’s also the date the four-time Tony Tovah Feldshuh nominee will replace Emmy-winning Jane Lynch as Brice’s mother, meaning there will be no Broadway reunion of “Glee” co-stars Michele and Michele. Lynch.

Feldstein has missed several performances in recent weeks, including a weekend matinee. Last month, a number of concerts were missed due to a positive test of COVID-19. She had said she would leave the show on Sept. 25, but now it won’t last until the end of July.

Fanny is one of the most difficult roles to play in musical theater, which needs both a pipe game, a sense of humor and a brave charm, perhaps that’s why it has only now been revived on the theater’s biggest stage. Streisand starred on Broadway in 1964 and then won an Oscar in the 1968 film version.

The bittersweet comedy tells the story of a young New York Jew in her 1920s who went from burlesque to Broadway stages despite criticism that she was not conventionally beautiful. “Funny Girl” is a musical that celebrates the weird, the curious, and the misfit.


Feldstein, the actor from “Booksmart” and “Lady Bird,” considered it one of the theater’s highest honors to play Brice, and told The Associated Press in April that he was trying not to think too much about it or “explode.”

Criticism was mixed or poor, and many critics said that while Feldstein brought excitement and spirit, her voice simply didn’t live up to it, and the Hollywood Reporter reviewer said, “She never makes the material shoot, and this is a rickety vehicle that needs a supernova to put gas in its tank. “

Feldstein, who made his Broadway debut in 2017 in Bette Midler-led renaissance of “Hello, Dolly!”, Failed to get a Tony nomination for “Funny Girl,” and the show itself was removed with a single nod: Jared. Grimes, outstanding actor in a musical comedy.


Box office revenues have softened lately, with a slow decline since the Tony Awards in June. The latest data shows that a weekly take falls below $ 1 million over a week of eight performances, with the show being a house that is only 75% full.

“I feel like this production was a magnet for drama. In fact, it seems to thrive with it. Any press is good press, I guess,” says theater, film and television historian Mark A. Robinson, author of “Musical Misfires: Three Decades of Broadway Musical Heartbreak ”and writer of the blog“ The Music That Makes Me Dance ”.

“I think it all seems like a public relations nightmare, but clearly Beanie Feldstein is ready to move on. The show will only keep moving towards balance with a name and someone who can do vocal justice to that glorious score. Michele will. It can be messy. , but messy creates publicity “.


Michele faced a violent backlash in 2020 and apologized for being “unnecessarily difficult” on the set of “Glee” after former co-star Samantha Marie Ware, who is Black, accused her of making her time there “a hell “.

Michele issued a statement saying that although she did not recall any incident or judge anyone for her background, she regretted and blamed her privilege and “immaturity.”

The reaction on Twitter on Monday was mostly sympathetic to Feldstein, with Ware challenging the news. “Yes, I’m human. Yes, I’m black. Yes, they abused me. Yes, my dreams were tainted. Yes, Broadway defends whiteness. Yes, Hollywood does the same. Yes, silence is complicity. Yes, me. I’m noisy. Yes, I would do it again, “he tweeted.


Mark Kennedy is here http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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In ‘Funny Girl’, Lea Michele is inside, Beanie Feldstein is outside

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