On Monday, producers confirmed that Lynch’s “Glee” co-star Lea Michele will take over the lead role of Ziegfeld Follies comedian Fanny Brice from the musical’s current star, Beanie Feldstein, in September. The news quickly sent the celebrity rumor mill into overdrive, which isn’t surprising given Michele’s well-established interest in the part and the foggy circumstances surrounding Feldstein’s abrupt departure.
Lynch, who plays Fanny Brice’s mother in “Funny Girl,” is happy for Michele. She told Deadline on Tuesday that the two “have been in touch” regarding the production in recent weeks.
“She’s just going to take this show and make it her own,” she said. “I’m so glad she’s getting the opportunity in real life to do the show and not just on ‘Glee.’”
Fans clamoring for a “Glee” reunion onstage, however, shouldn’t get their hopes up. When Michele joins the production Sept. 6, four-time Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh will succeed Lynch in the role of Fanny’s mother.
“You know, it was just a really strong idea to have Feldshuh and Lea premiere together,” explained Lynch, who was already planning to depart the show in September. “That’s the only reason [we won’t appear together.] I adore her.”
Until now, the character of Fanny Brice has been synonymous with Barbra Streisand, who originated the role on Broadway in 1964 and won an Oscar for the movie adaptation of “Funny Girl” four years later.
The current production of “Funny Girl” marks the first time the musical has been revived on Broadway since its debut 58 years ago. However, Feldstein’s performance was widely panned by critics, and the show was noticeably absent from the 2022 Tony Awards last month despite a supporting actor nomination for Jared Grimes.
Though Michele’s powerhouse vocals are undeniable, her casting has drawn a fair amount of criticism in its own right. For years, the actor has been accused of poor on-set behavior and “traumatic microaggressions” against her co-stars.
Only time will tell whether Michele’s allegedly mean-spirited behavior (for which she has apologized) has improved, or whether her portrayal of Fanny Brice will be better received than Feldstein’s. Interest in “Funny Girl,” however, appears to have skyrocketed in the days since her casting was announced. According to Variety, tickets for Michele’s opening-night performance are selling for up to $2,500 apiece.