Lea Michele Earns Multiple Standing Ovations After Finally Taking Over ‘Funny Girl’ On Broadway


Lea Michele earned widespread praise for her first performance as Fanny Brice in the musical Funny Girl on Broadway Tuesday night, according to multiple reports, after the Glee actress controversially took over the role from Beanie Feldstein after years of publicly angling for the part.

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Key Facts

Audience members were “buzzing” over Michele’s first performance, according to accounts on Twitter and in multiple news reports, with one eyewitness telling E! News, “The audience was losing their minds at pretty much anything Lea did.”

Michele received at least six standing ovations during the performance, according to People, including four in the first act of the show alone.

Glee creator Ryan Murphy and actor Jonathan Groff, Michele’s close friend, were among the celebrities present in the audience Tuesday, Variety reports, adding Groff “looked positively ecstatic” when Michele was onstage and “[sobbed] at various points.”

Michele also reportedly received “laughter and gasps” from the audience when her character says at one point, “I hadn’t read many books,” given the wild conspiracy theory alleging the actress can’t read.

“She's the greatest star alright,” one fan said at the theater about Michele, People reports, while Harvey Fierstein, who updated the musical’s book, was overheard telling a friend, “I haven't had a night like this in the theater in years.”

Actress Tovah Feldshuh also stepped into the show Tuesday as Michele’s mother—replacing her former Glee co-star Jane Lynch—with New York Post critic Johnny Olekinski reporting Feldshuh is the “funniest girl” in the show and “a marvel.”

Crucial Quote

“Michele is ready to go. She’s revved up and performs like she’s been belting ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ in the shower every day for 10 years,” Olekinski wrote in the Post. “Together with the titanic Feldshuh, the Glee star lifts this wanting production into something much more palatable than it was back in the spring.”

What To Watch For

While a number of publications sent reporters to Michele’s first performance, critics will be formally invited to come back and review the show in a few weeks, according to the Post and Deadline.

Big Number

$2,500. That’s how high the priciest tickets to Michele’s first performance were selling for, according to multiple news reports from right after the news broke she was stepping into the show.

Surprising Fact

Some small changes were made to this production of Funny Girl after Feldstein departed the show and was replaced with Michele, who’s more of a singer than her predecessor. The production added in the song “I’d Rather Be Blue Over You” for Michele, which the actual Fanny Brice sang in the 1928 film My Man and Barbra Streisand performed in the film adaptation of Funny Girl in 1968, but was not previously part of the stage show.

Key Background

This production of Funny Girl marks the first time the show has been revived on Broadway since its initial production in 1964, which was best remembered for making Streisand a star. Feldstein originated the role of Fanny Brice in the production but garnered controversy when her performances yielded largely negative reviews and was snubbed by the Tony Awards, with Funny Girl only picking up one nomination for supporting actor Jared Grimes. Though Feldstein was supposed to stay with the production for a year after it opened in April, it was announced in June that she would depart on September 25—and then in July that she would actually leave even sooner, on July 31, with Michele replacing her. Michele has publicly expressed her desire to play Brice since at least 2014 and was previously in talks to remount the show with Murphy, but the actress has more recently generated widespread controversy due to allegations she mistreated her ex-cast mates. Glee actress Samantha Ware accused Michele of making her work on the show “a living hell” and other actors made similar accusations, and Michele lost sponsorship deals and stayed out of the public spotlight for years as a result. She then returned to the screen this year in a documentary on Spring Awakening, which Michele starred in on Broadway from 2006 to 2008. Michele has apologized for the alleged harm she’s caused her castmates, and told the New York Times this month the allegations “prompted an ‘intense time of reflection’” for her and she “really understand[s] the importance and value now of being a leader.”

Further Reading

Lea Michele Replacing Beanie Feldstein In ‘Funny Girl’ On Broadway — Here’s Why It’s Controversial (Forbes)

Lea Michele Receives 4 Standing Ovations Before Intermission at Her First Performance of 'Funny Girl' (People)

Six Standing Ovations Later, Lea Michele Triumphantly Returns to Broadway in ‘Funny Girl’ (Variety)

‘Funny Girl’ review: Lea Michele lifts Broadway show out of the guttah (New York Post)

Lea Michele Is Well Aware That the Pressure Is On (New York Times)

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