People who need to see Lea Michele play Fanny Brice on Broadway are the luckiest people.
Lead producers Sonia Friedman, Scott Landis and David Babani announced today the Glee star is replacing Beanie Feldstein in Funny Girl beginning Sept. 6 at the August Wilson Theatre. Standby Julie Benko will play the lead Aug. 2 to Sept. 4 and for all Thursday evening performances starting on Sept. 8.
Tovah Feldshuh replaces Jane Lynch in the role of Fanny’s mother, also on Sept. 6.
Feldstein wrote on Instagram yesterday that with the production “going in a different direction” she’s exiting on July 31. The production previously tweeted that her last performance in the Michael Mayer-directed revival would be Sept. 25. She still may be smarting from reviews that compared her unfavorably with the 1964 original production’s star, Barbara Streisand.
Michele was last on Broadway in the 2006 Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening, also directed by Mayer. She originated the role of Wendla, a naive 14-year-old in provincial, 1890s Germany who eventually dies after a botched abortion.
She could enliven sales of the $15 million revival, which have been gradually declining since early May. Her full-throttle rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” at the 2010 Tony Awards has been viewed 4.5 million times on YouTube and was seen by many insiders as an audition for the long-gestating revival.
The original Jule Styne-Bob Merrill-Isobel Lennart musical made a star of Streisand and ran for more than three years. The revival has a revised book by Harvey Fierstein.