Following the news that Beanie Feldsteinis leaving the Broadway revival of Funny Girl two months early, it was announced that Lea Michele has been cast as her replacement. Michele, who previously starred in the original cast of Spring Awakening, will take over the lead role as Fanny Brice.
Michele will formally take over the role starting Sept. 6, while current standby Julie Benko will assume the part from Aug. 2 to Sept. 4 and on Thursdays beginning Sept. 8.
It was also announced that Tony nominee and “Walking Dead” actress Tovah Feldshuh will replace Michele’s former “Glee” co-star, Jane Lynch, as Mrs. Brice. Feldshuh will make her debut in Funny Girl alongside Michele on Sept. 6. This means that in addition to Feldstein, Lynch will be leaving the production early, after it was previously announced she would perform on stage through Sept. 25.
Both Michele and Feldshuh will join current cast members Ramin Karimloo, who plays Nick Arnstein, and Jared Grimes, who earned a 2022 Tony Award nomination for his turn as Eddie Ryan.
The news of Michele in the role, meanwhile, comes after many longtime fans had hoped she would be cast in the production, when the revival was first announced last year.
“There is a misconception that there are these roles that I am desperate to play. And yes, they are. But there are so many things I would love to do,” she told ET last fall, adding that “I am so supportive of Beanie and [Spring Awakening director] Michael [Mayer] and Jane and this whole production.”
Michele added, “I think that everyone has wanted this show to come back for so long. I am a huge fan and always have been.”
See some of the Twitter reaction to the “Funny Girl” news below.
Lea Michele is coming and my body is ready #funnygirl
— Everett John 🎼 (@EverettJohn) July 11, 2022
— Sofia G. ミ☆ (@ItsSoffsgxx) July 11, 2022
— Scott Lerman (@LermanScott) July 11, 2022
— JANE✨💗✨ (@jan_fatimukis) July 11, 2022
Lea Michele is set to play Fanny Brice on Broadway despite being cancelled and blacklisted for years. I see what you did there… excited cause SHE MAY BE DIFFICULT BUT DAMN MY GIRL CAN SING #LeaMichele #funnygirl pic.twitter.com/r4N1YfZnxY
— your fav italian bimbo (@BluelNto) July 11, 2022
On Sunday, Feldstein took to Instagram to explain why she made the “extremely difficult decision” to step down as Fanny Brice, which she previously told ET was a “dream” role of hers growing up. In her statement, she cited the production team moving “in a different direction” as the catalyst for her departure.
“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 honour. 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 wrote.
“I will never forget this experience and from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every single person who came to the August Wilson for the love and support you have shown me and our amazing cast and crew. The people I have had the great joy of bringing Funny Girl to life with every night, both on and off the stage, are all remarkably talented and exceptional humans and I hope you continue to join them on Henry Street after I depart on July 31st,” she concluded.
Feldstein’s portrayal of the character marked the first time in 58 years that Funny Girl had been on Broadway. The role was originally played by Barbra Streisand in 1964.
Funny Girl is currently in production at the August Wilson Theatre.
MORE FROM ET: