Rachel Berry finally gets her big “Funny Girl” moment.
Lea Michele, whose “Glee” character Rachel dreamed of playing Fanny Brice on Broadway in the role originated by Barbra Streisand, will officially star in the dramedy musical starting August 1. Michele takes over for Beanie Feldstein, last seen on Broadway in the Tony-winning “Hello, Dolly!”
Michele will take over the role of Fanny Brice on September 6. Until then, Feldstein’s understudy Julie Benko will perform from August 2 through September 4 and every Thursday beginning on September 8.
Fellow “Glee” alum Jane Lynch, who previously announced she would be playing the role of Brice’s mother Rose Brice through September 25, will now exit the musical prior to Michele joining. Lynch’s final performance will be on September 6; she will be replaced by Tovah Feldshuh (“Yentl”).
“Booksmart” star Feldstein was supposed to exit the musical on the same September date, but she issued a statement via social media on July 10 explaining that the production is going “in a different direction.”
“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,” Feldstein penned. “Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than anticipated. 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.”
She added, “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.”
“Funny Girl” marks Michele’s first return to the stage since 2019’s “The Little Mermaid,” in which she portrayed Princess Ariel at the Hollywood Bowl theatre. Most recently, Michele reprised her role in the Tony Award-winning musical “Spring Awakening” for a one-night-only concert as part of the 15th anniversary HBO special of the groundbreaking show. “Funny Girl” additionally reunites Michele with “Spring Awakening” helmer Michael Mayer, who produces and directs “Funny Girl.”