Why Lea Michele Replacing Beanie Feldstein in ‘Funny Girl’ Is a Big Deal
Lea Michele will officially play the role of a lifetime. The actress, who came to fame playing Rachel Berry on the high school TV drama Glee, is officially joining the cast of the Funny Girl revival on Broadway.
The Spring Awakening star will replace Beanie Feldstein in the lead role of Fanny Brice. Of course, the role was famously first realized by Barbra Streisand. The legendary star also played Fanny in the film adaptation released in 1968, which netted her a win at the Oscars.
Michele confirmed the casting news in a post on Instagram.
"A dream come true is an understatement," she gushed in the caption. "I’m so incredibly honored to join this amazing cast and production and return to the stage playing Fanny Brice on Broadway."
Her run as the iconic character begins Sept. 6, the same date Tovah Feldshuh will replace Jane Lynch, who previously starred with Michele on Glee, as Mrs. Brice.
In a post of her own on Instagram, Feldstein confirmed she will depart the show at the end of July.
"Playing Fanny Brice on Broadway has been a lifelong dream of mine, and doing so for the last few months has been a great joy and true honor," she wrote.
Feldstein added she decided to leave earlier than expected after "production decided to take the show in a different direction."
Her last performance takes place July 31.
Read her full post below:
The Hollywood Reporter notes the revival of Funny Girl had been met with mixed reviews thus far. Some were critical of Feldstein's voice, saying it was ill-suited for a show that requires powerful vocal theatrics.
For now, it appears Feldstein's understudy will take center stage for planned performances through August and early September.
Although Michele is only just joining the cast of Funny Girl, she's trended on social media every time a big announcement has been made about the show over the past few years.
In a way, her casting feels like something that was prophesied on Glee years ago. As Rachel, Michele delivered multiple awe-inspiring performances of standards from the beloved musical.
While her character was at times polarizing, there's no denying that the young ingenue knew how to pull the vocal trigger.
In Glee's fifth season, Rachel won the opportunity to play Fanny in a Broadway revival. Interestingly, she and Lynch performed a duet version of on "Who Are You Now" during one of the season's episodes.
Years later, both actresses have now been involved with Funny Girl's long-awaited return to Broadway.
Michele's casting is a big deal for reasons beyond that fact that it feels like a Glee-inspired fever dream.
The star has long been an avid fan of Streisand. In 2011 she had the opportunity to perform "My Man" at the Music Cares Gala in honor of the iconic vocalist.
Years later, she reflected on the opportunity during an interview with Seth Meyers, according to Billboard. She told the late-night host that Streisand told her she was "great."
"And now I'm dead," she joked. "And I died there that night, and everything has been a dream ever since."
People reports Michele initially turned down an opportunity to play Fanny in the revival years before it actually came back to Broadway. Back then, Glee creator Ryan Murphy was tied to the project.
However, she has shown the role nothing but respect and admiration over the years.
Although Fanny initially went to Feldstein, Michele graciously congratulated the actress. "YOU are the greatest star," she wrote in a post on Instagram, according to People. She also referred to Feldstein as an "incredible choice."
She processed the news with grace. However, Newsweek notes Michele's name trended after Funny Girl premiered to lukewarm reviews.
Her name also trended ahead of the official casting announcement today (July 11). Fans and critics alike took to social media to react to the news.
Many were thrilled for the star who has now earned an opportunity to bring a dream to life.
Others were more critical due to Michele's controversial past and previous reports that she's bullied co-stars.
One Twitter user opined that the star deserves a chance for redemption.
"I think people who acted poorly in the past at least deserve a chance to redeem themselves," they wrote. "Let's hope Lea Michele takes that opportunity to spread kindness. It's up to her now."
Check out more reactions, below: