Reality Behind Broadway Blow-up of Lea Michele Replacing Beanie Feldstein as the “Funny Girl” 2022!!
Feldstein is quitting the show two months early as production is taking the show “in a different direction.”
Beanie Feldstein’s time playing the Funny Girl on Broadway is over. It was confirmed today that the show’s star would be leaving two months ahead of schedule, with Lea Michele stepping into the shoes of Fanny Brice. If you’re a Broadway fan like us, your alarms go off because Feldstein says it’s ending soon.
For an actress who has received rave reviews, including an article by our own Maggie Lovitt, it’s puzzling why she was replaced. As Lovitt puts it, Feldstein tackled her character with “fervent enthusiasm” and was able to fully show the wide arc Fanny takes throughout the show “from naïve, hopeless romantic of ingenuity to weary but optimistic wife and mother.” So, what gives?
It turns out that Feldstein’s departure was not her own decision but was a production choice. In a statement the actress gave regarding the reason for her departure, she said that the production wanted to “take the show in a different direction.” And just like that, Feldstein was out, and Michele was in.
But the plot thickens. Michael Mayer, known to fans of the Broadway hit Spring Awakening for his Tony Award-winning vision as a director, serves as producer and director of Funny Girl. Michele starred alongside Jonathan Groff and John Gallagher Jr. in the 2006 Tony total production. Whether it’s just a coincidence or more, it sheds some attractive light on why this changed.
And in case you thought we were spiraling down the rabbit hole of Broadway drama (which may very well be true), another point of interest to point out is that Jane Lynch, who currently stars alongside Feldstein as Fanny’s mother, is also jumping Mrs. Brice ship soon as fans of the hit series Glee will know, Lynch worked alongside Michele during the show’s six-season run, which has us wondering if the actress’ departure has anything to do with being replaced in the solidarity movement or something else. Tovah Feldshuh from September 6 will replace her.
Nevertheless, of what’s going on behind the scenes at the August Wilson Theatre, Michele is hugely excited to be cast in a role that has been on her radar for several years. As for the production, we wonder what direction they will take with the new star and what changes they plan to make.
While we’re sad to see Feldstein leave, we’re sure it’s just the beginning of her show-stopping Broadway career. Feldstein’s final performance will be on July 31, with Julie Benko taking over the role until Michele starts on September 6, with Benko filling in for the new star on Thursday.
Producers were “shocked at this point” but not surprised by Feldstein’s Sunday Instagram post announcing her sudden departure from the show, a show source said. “There was a conversation with Beanie and the team that wasn’t fruitful and wasn’t kind. Once Gawker’s story about Lee broke, it became very contentious.
She stopped talking. Until then, it was very much one on one. Whoever could speak to her was straightforward and kind and felt she had the whole team’s support. She knew we were all doing our best for her. If not that day, then the day after, we were told we couldn’t talk to her and to go through her reruns. That was the first negative shift. Everything went downhill very quickly after that.
“After Sunday, everything is tense in the theater. One person who worked there told me, ‘No one knows what to say to Beanie.'”
The source said that Feldstein has not talked about leaving the show after the scathing reviews. “The community rallied around her. She is hot, and the company is hot to her. She was sick with COVID and had scheduled breaks. But when she came to work, she came to work, and everyone appreciated it.”
“Beanie initiated the exit from the show and the early termination of the contract. The question for the producers was how to deal with the situation. The producers needed to advertise Lea as an entry on the show and also protect Beanie while she was on the show. Both things had to happen together.
For now, the producers are trying to move the conversation and excitement forward into Lea Michele’s new Funny Girl promised land. Only 65% of tickets were sold last week into the traditionally slow summer months, and attendance was down 9.3%. Variety reports a surge in ticket prices for Michele’s September 6 debut night.
“I think Lea will bring a familiarity to the role people crave. I think, in the end, Lea is the closest to what Fanny was in the original. She brings that clarity. For the show to survive, Lea has to be so good that people who have seen the show before say, ‘Oh, I heard she’s amazing; you have to see the show again.’ Lea has to be that good. If it’s not, we’re dead.”