Many big stars in Hollywood got their start on Broadway, and many Hollywood stars will now and then give the stage a try. Hugh Jackman is currently back on Broadway in The Music Man after making his name in Hollywood and his reviews have been pretty solid. The same can't be said for up and coming Hollywood star Beanie Feldstein, who has been playing the lead role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl to mixed reviews. Now the actress has decided to leave the show earlier than anticipated, but Funny Girl has found a big name to takeover as Lea Michele has just been announced as the new Fanny Brice.
While Lea Michele is probably best known for her years in the ensemble cast on the TV series Glee, she's certainly no stranger to Broadway. Her name was one of those on the short list as potentials to takeover as soon as the news broke that Beanie Feldstein was leaving. In addition to Michele taking over as Fanny Brice, it was also announced that Tovah Feldshuh was taking over the role of Mrs. Brice, which has been played by Jane Lynch. The new casting will take effect September 6. Lynch will stay on until then. Julie Benko, the standby for Feldstein, will take the role of Fanny in August.
Beanie Feldstein had previously been expected to play the lead in Funny Girl until at least September, so her announcement that she was leaving the role as of July 31 was a bit of a surprise. Whether she made the decision to leave herself due to the less than stellar reviews, or was asked to do so, is far from clear. Feldstein took to Instagram to announce her departure.
A post shared by Beanie Feldstein (@beaniefeldstein) (opens in new tab)
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Attempting to read between the lines here would seem to imply that some changes were being made to the show, and Beanie Feldstein wasn't entirely on board with them, whatever they were. The changes could have been anything. Of course, it's possible the change in question was replacing her in the role, though she perhaps could have stayed on in another capacity if she really wanted to do so.
It's difficult to tell in this moment how people are truly feeling about this change. Early comments on the Instagram post announcing the new casting are in a certain amount of shock, but whether that shock is good or bad is difficult to parse.
It's an interesting casting decision for a couple of reasons, of both the real life and meta variety. Lea Michele had made her interest in the role known since before the plan to revive Funny Girl was originally announced. In addition, it's a role that her character on Glee also desperately wanted at one point in the series.
Lea Michele comes to the role in Funny Girl with a certain amount of her own baggage. A couple of years ago a number of Glee cast members spoke out about what they claimed was inappropriate treatment from the actress on the set. Michele apologized for her behavior, but has been largely away from the big or small screen since. The return to Broadway has the potential to be a big one.
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