It’s official: Lea Michele‘s Funny Girl dream has at long last been realized.
The Glee grad, who famously played Fanny Brice in Fox’s show within a show, will lead the Broadway revival this fall, the production announced Monday.
She succeeds current star Beanie Feldstein, who was initially set to depart the show on Sunday, Sept. 25. But over the weekend, Feldstein shared that the production had “decided to take the show in a different direction,” and she would instead take her final bow on Sunday, July 31.
Additionally, Michele’s former Glee castmate Jane Lynch, who currently stars opposite Feldstein as Mrs. Brice, will be replaced by four-time Tony nominee (and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend vet) Tovah Feldshuh.
Michele and Feldshuh will make their debut on Tuesday, Sept. 6. (Fanny Brice standby Julie Benko will perform the title role alongside Lynch from Tuesday, Aug. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 4, and on Thursdays alongside Feldshuh beginning Sept. 8.)
Michele had previously expressed interest in headlining a Funny Girl revival during a 2017 appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. So when Feldstein was cast in the titular role last October, Michele’s name quickly became a trending topic on Twitter.
Michele eventually weighed in on Feldstein’s casting during an interview on the Nov. 11 episode of the Little Me: Growing Up Broadway podcast. “There’s been so much talk about me coming to Broadway — and not coming to Broadway!” Michele joked at the time. “Listen, I am so unbelievably excited to see Funny Girl on Broadway. I cannot wait. I had drinks with [director] Michael [Mayer] the other day, and I just think that Beanie is an incredible choice for the production, and I think it’s going to be so wonderful. I can’t wait to see Jane [Lynch] in it as well.”
As Glee fans will recall, Rachel Berry first auditioned for the role of Fanny Brice in the Season 4 episode “Sweet Dreams.” She made her Broadway debut in the Season 5 episode “Opening Night,” for which she received a glowing review in The New York Times. But soon after, Rachel departed Broadway to star in her own sitcom, That’s So Rachel, which was cancelled after one low-rated episode.
“A dream come true is an understatement,” Michele declared on Instagram Monday immediately following the announcement. “I’m so incredibly honored to join this amazing cast and production and return to the stage playing Fanny Brice on Broadway.”
Funny Girl first opened on Broadway in 1964 and launched the career of Barbra Streisand, who went on to star in the 1968 feature film adaptation. The musical’s 2022 revival, which opened April 24, received mixed reviews, with featured actor Jared Grimes receiving the production’s one and only Tony nomination for his turn as Eddie Ryan. (Both Grimes and Ramin Karimloo, who plays Nick Arnstein, will remain with the production upon Michele’s arrival.)
UPDATE: Michele’s former Glee co-star Samantha Marie Ware, who in 2020 said Michele made her time on the Fox series “a living hell” rife with “traumatic” racial “microaggressions,” tweeted this Monday afternoon: “Yes, I’m online today. Yes, I see y’all. Yes, I care. Yes, [I’m] 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.”
Will you be purchasing a ticket to see Lea Michele in Funny Girl?