In ‘Funny Girl,’ Lea Michele enters, Beanie Feldstein leaves

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — Lea Michele has been tapped to step in and lead the Broadway revival of the embattled “Funny Girl” this fall, an announcement made just hours after current star Beanie Feldstein revealed she would be leaving the musical sooner than later. planned due to the show taking a “different direction”.

The high-profile cast change represents another step toward Michele’s return to the spotlight and respectability after former “Glee” castmates in 2021 accused the actor of behavior that was portrayed as racist and bullying.

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

Broadway is often known for its smooth, quiet transitions after A-list stars exit shows, in part to protect the multimillion-dollar shows, indicating that the backstage machinations on “Funny Girl” have been strained at The best case.

In an extraordinary step, Feldstein took to social media on Sunday. saying that while playing the heroine of “Funny Girl” was a “lifetime dream”, she could no longer continue due to the producers’ choices and would be leaving early on July 31.

“Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to pull out earlier than planned,” he wrote. His Instagram post was notably appreciated by Broadway veteran Ramin Karimloo, who plays Brice’s love interest in “Funny Girl” and stays.

Fanny Brice’s understudy, Julie Benko, will play the title role from August 2 to September 2. 4. Then Michele will intervene from September 6. That’s also the date that four-time Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh will replace Emmy winner Jane Lynch as Brice’s mom, meaning there won’t be a Broadway reunion of “Glee” castmates. , Michele and Lynch.

Feldstein has missed several performances in recent weeks, including a weekend matinee. Last month, he missed a number of shows due to a positive COVID-19 test. She had said that she would be leaving the show on September 25, but now she will not last beyond the end of July.

Fanny is one of the most difficult roles to play in musical theatre, requiring a flute-play, a sense of humor and a spunky charm, perhaps why it has only now been revived on the theatre’s biggest stage. Streisand starred in it on Broadway in 1964 and went on to win an Oscar for the 1968 film version.

The bittersweet comedy tells the story of a Jewish girl from New York in the 1920s who crossed over from burlesque to the Broadway stage despite criticism that she was not conventionally beautiful. “Funny Girl” is a musical that celebrates weirdos, crackpots, and misfits.

Feldstein, the “Booksmart” and “Lady Bird” actress, considered playing Brice one of the theater’s highest honors, telling The Associated Press in April that she tried not to think about it too much or she would “explode.”

Reviews were mixed to poor, with many critics saying that while Feldstein brought emotion and spirit, her voice simply wasn’t up to the task, with the Hollywood Reporter’s review saying that she “never makes the material soar, and this is a beat up vehicle that needs a supernova to put gas in its tank.”

Feldstein, who made her Broadway debut in 2017 in the Bette Midler-directed revival of “Hello, Dolly!”, failed to earn a Tony nomination for “Funny Girl,” and the show itself was canceled with a single nod. : to Jared. Grimes, a featured actor in a musical.

Box office receipts have weakened of late, slowing down since the Tony Awards in June. The most recent data shows a weekly gross drops below $1 million for an eight-performance week with the show performing to a only 75 percent full house.

“I feel like this production has been a magnet for drama. In fact, it seems as if he thrives on it. I guess any press is good,” says theater, film and television historian Mark A. Robinson, author of “Musical Misfires: Three Decades of Broadway Musical Heartbreak” and author of the blog “The Music That Makes Me Dance.”

Michele faced backlash in 2021, apologizing for being “unnecessarily difficult” on the set of “Glee” after a co-star accused her of making her time there “hell.”

Michele released a statement saying that while she did not recall any incidents or judge anyone based on their background, she regretted it and blamed her privilege and “immaturity.”


Mark Kennedy is in

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