It was destiny. Lea Michele will take over the role of Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl. She takes over from the departing Beanie Feldstein on September 6. Tovah Feldshuh will take on the role of Mrs. Brice after Jane Lynch leaves the production. Alas, Jane leaves her role just as Lea comes on board. The two Glee stars will never take the stage together.
On Glee, Lea starred as Rachel Berry, the driven high school student with dreams of New York City stardom. On season 1, Lea performed a showstopping performance of Funny Girl’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade. The 9th episode featured the Glee Club competing in the sectionals round of competition, which they handily won.
Lea’s Glee character Rachel Berry landed a role in a fictional Funny Girl revival
From then on, fans clamored for Lea to play the role in a Broadway revival. Eventually, the Glee plotline followed Rachel post-high school to New York City where she landed the lead role in a fictional Funny Girl revival. Glee executive producer, Ryan Murphy nabbed the rights to Funny Girl, planning to produce a production with Lea in the lead. But it was not meant to be…yet.
Here’s Lea as Rachel Berry performing “I’m the Greatest Star” on the “Opening Night” episode from season 5.
Also from season 5, and part of the “Funny Girl” arc, Rachel Berry rehearses “People”
Feldstein’s standby Julie Benko will perform the title role from Tuesday, August 2 through Sunday, September 4, and will play the part on Thursdays beginning September 8. Feldstein made a surprise announcement Sunday night that she would exit the show on July 31, two months before her original September 25 departure. And that September date was months before her original end of year commitment. In her Instagram post, Feldstein said she made the decision to leave now after “the production decided to take the show in a different direction.”
A steady erosion in attendance followed lukewarm reviews for Feldstein and a Tony nomination shutout. Producers are hoping casting Lea will reinvigorate ticket sales.
Lea’s Broadway credits include playing Young Cosette in Les Misérables as a child as well as Ragtime and Fiddler on the Roof. She originated the role of Wendla in Spring Awakening.