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Why Lea Michele Being Cast in Funny Girl Has Everyone Talking

If you’ve been paying attention to the Broadway news over the last few months, it’s been a long and hard road for Funny Girl star Beanie Feldstein. The reviews about her performance were especially harsh and almost felt personal, instead of highlighting that her strengths in the role came from her comedy acting chops. No one is Barbra Streisand in the Fanny Brice role except for Streisand herself.

That’s what makes the news that Lea Michele is stepping into the role even juicier because Glee fans know how long she’s coveted singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” on Broadway. Feldstein was originally expected to exit alongside co-star Jane Lynch on Sept. 4, and that surprise announcement fueled the rumors that Michele was waiting in the wings to take over. Well, the Booksmart star reportedly knew the replacement news was coming and decided on an even earlier exit on social media on Sunday, July 10. “Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than anticipated,” she wrote while revealing her last day in the show would be July 31. She added that it was “a great joy and true honor” to play the character, but it’s hard not to read between the lines that the backstage drama had exhausted her. “She clearly doesn’t give a s**t,” a source told Page Six. 

Michele has made it known since 2014 that Fanny Brice was her dream role, especially since Glee creator Ryan Murphy held the rights to the musical at the time. Her Funny Girl obsession was even written into the musical TV drama as her character Rachel Berry goes on to star in the Broadway show, so there was never a secret about Michele’s ambitions. However, the two women were pitted against each other the moment Feldstein’s casting was announced. She even told Andy Cohen on his SiriusXM show that she “didn’t understand” why their names were trending on Twitter side by side since she “didn’t know that any of [the drama] was happening.” Oddly enough, as the box office dollars dipped and Feldstein had to miss quite a few shows due to a COVID diagnosis and other commitments, Michele’s name reentered the picture.

Even taking Feldstein out of the equation doesn’t eliminate the controversy, though. Michele is making somewhat of a comeback after harassment and racism allegations from her former Glee castmates were lodged at her during the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. She wrote an online apology, sharing, “While I don’t remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or color of their skin, that’s not really the point. What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people.” Only time will tell if her apology was enough to let people move forward and buy expensive Broadway tickets with her in the lead. Funny Girl producers are hoping to turn the production around, but there’s certainly been a lot of drama that will keep people far away.

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