Lea Michele to play Fanny Brice in 'Funny Girl'
She will replace Beanie Feldstein in September.
Michele is best known for starring as Rachel Berry on all six seasons of the TV show, a role that earned her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Michele's casting as Fanny is a parallel to her Glee character: Rachel's favorite musical is Funny Girl. She sings "Don't Rain on My Parade" often in the series and, in the final season, wins a Tony Award for playing Fanny on Broadway. (Michele, as a replacement cast member, will not be eligible for a Tony Award for Funny Girl.)
Funny Girl will mark Michele's return to Broadway in nearly 15 years, following her turn as Wendla in Spring Awakening from 2006 to 2008. Her other Broadway credits include Fiddler on the Roof, Ragtime, and Les Misérables. She also performed in a one-night Spring Awakening reunion concert at Broadway's Imperial Theatre in November 2021, which is streaming as part of the 2022 HBO documentary Spring Awakening: Those You've Known.
Michele will play Fanny seven times a week at the August Wilson Theatre. Julie Benko, the current understudy for Fanny, will play the role at Thursday performances. Benko will also play Fanny full-time from August 2 to September 4.
Feldstein was initially scheduled to depart Funny Girl on September 25 alongside Michele's Glee co-star, Jane Lynch. Feldstein will now leave Funny Girl on July 31. In a statement from Feldstein, she posted: "Playing Fanny Brice on Broadway has been a lifelong dream of mine, and doing so for the last few months has been a great joy and true honor."
Lynch will now play a final performance on September 4, and Tovah Feldshuh will join the cast as Mrs. Brice from September 6.
The 2022 production of Funny Girl marks the show's first Broadway revival since the 1964 premiere starring Barbra Streisand. The musical is based on the life of the real Ziegfeld Follies showgirl Fanny Brice, who falls in love with the gambler Nick Arnstein at the height of her career and puts everything on the line for a risky romance. Learn more about why you should see Funny Girl on Broadway.
Photo credit: Lea Michele (Photo courtesy of production)