Beanie Feldstein is out, Lea Michele is in. It's giving Glee.
It’s been a wild 24 hours for the production of Funny Girl. After Beanie Feldstein cryptically declared that she would be exiting her role as Fanny Brice in the Broadway show’s buzzy revival earlier than expected, the production confirmed a Gawker report and announced that none other than Lea Michele would serve as her replacement.
On Sunday, Feldstein, who was scheduled to stay in the role until September 25, posted a message on Instagram saying that while the role had been a lifelong dream of hers, she would depart on July 31, vaguely referencing creative differences behind-the-scenes. “Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than anticipated,” she wrote. Within minutes of Feldstein’s note, the official account for Funny Girl posted that “exciting cast announcements” would be coming on Monday.
Many half-jokingly speculated that Michele would take over the role, particularly considering that the actress has essentially publicly auditioned for the role on multiple occasions. The casting, though, is now official, making for a shocking, juicy turn of events in the theater world — all signs point toward something fishy and acrimonious transpiring rather than a peaceful hand-off here.
It should be noted as well, that Feldstein’s part — a highly anticipated casting choice when it was announced last year — has been widely characterized as a critical dud. Theater fans online have been notoriously harsh in turn in discussing Feldstein’s tenure as one that failed to live up to the hype.
Meanwhile, no other celebrity performer has indicated more strongly their desire for the role than Michele, who ironically enough has become known for being a behind-the-scenes bully — and accused of racism — during her run on Glee. The meme-like reputation has only fueled gossip around Michele’s casting (and initial lack of casting) in the Funny Girl revival, and has naturally set off the theater community now that it’s official.
Michele’s turn will also mark her return to Broadway, after she departed the Tony Award-winning Spring Awakening in 2008. She will step into the role of Fanny Brice on September 6, while Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh will take over the role of Mrs. Brice from Michele’s former Glee co-star Jane Lynch. Standby Julie Benko will play Fanny in August before Michele takes over.