Glee star Lea Michele will officially take over the role of Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl, beginning September 6. Michele will be joined by Broadway veteran Tovah Feldshuh, who takes over the role of Mrs. Brice from fellow Glee alum Jane Lynch. Lynch will now depart the show on September 4, three weeks earlier than previously announced.
Michele’s casting follows the big-budget revival’s original star Beanie Feldstein’s Instagram announcement that she would depart July 31, two months earlier than previously scheduled. In her post, Feldstein appeared to cite creative differences, writing: “Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than anticipated.”
Feldstein’s standby Julie Benko will perform the title role from Tuesday, August 2–Sunday, September 4, prior to Michele’s arrival. Benko will then perform the role on Thursdays beginning September 8. Michele will perform on a seven-show week schedule.
Co-stars Ramin Karimloo and Jared Grimes will remain with the production. Grimes earned the show’s singular Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.
Michele’s character on the hit show Glee was obsessed with Funny Girl and ultimately performed it on Broadway in the series’ fifth season. Michele also performed “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” “You Are Woman, I Am Man,” “People,” “I’m the Greatest Star,” and “Who Are You Now,” on the show. Following earlier reports of revivals led by Michele which failed to reach Broadway, this casting is a full circle moment for the actress.
Tony Award winner Michael Mayer directs this brand-new Funny Girl, featuring the classic score by Tony, Grammy and Academy Award winner Jule Styne and lyrics by Tony Award nominee and Grammy Award winner Bob Merrill, (comprising additional songs from Styne & Merrill). The original book by Isobel Lennart, from an original story by Miss Lennart, is revised by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein.