Producers of the Broadway musical “Funny Girl” claim they “were not blindsided” by the news of actress Beanie Feldstein’s departure from the show months before she had originally planned to leave.
Despite rumors to the contrary Feldstein and the producers agreed that she would be better served by leaving at the end of the month rather than in September when she was scheduled to make her final bow as Fanny Brice.
The producers and Feldstein’s representative announced in a joint statement to People on Wednesday that they had decided to split ways “together professionally, respectfully and graciously.”
“The producers decided to take the show in a different direction and end Beanie’s contract on September 25th, 6 months earlier than anticipated,” the statement said. “A month after that decision, Beanie decided it was best for her to leave on July 31st.” The producers said they were “aware of and in support of her decision.”
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Barbra Streisand earned a name for herself in the part of Jewish vaudeville legend Fanny Brice in the 1960s and in the 1968 film adaptation of the musical, “Funny Girl” for which she won an Academy Award. The movie’s star came back for the sequel “Funny Lady” (1975).
“Though she bravely acquits herself, she never makes the role her own,” wrote Times theater critic Charles McNulty. “Feldstein has a mobile face and a knack for pratfalls but she’s not yet a master clown. And her singing is a mixed blessing. She can belt ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ with enough power to bring the audience ecstatically to its feet at the end of the first act, but her nonbelting voice rarely gains traction.”
This marks Lea Michele’s first Broadway appearance since she left “Spring Awakening” in 2009 and it was announced on Monday that the former “Glee” star would be taking Feldstein’s spot in the play. Michele sang many numbers from “Funny Girl” while on the Fox musical series. It’s also her first major part since 2020, when news broke about her problematic behavior.
Feldstein’s run as Brice at the August Wilson Theatre ends this month and from August 2nd through September 4th, substitute Julie Benko will take over. Michele will take over the role on September 6 and Broadway veteran Tovah Feldshuh’ll join her in the role of Mrs. Brice (in place of Michele’s former “Glee” co-star Jane Lynch), as well as current cast members Ramin Karimloo in the role of Nick Arnstein and Jared Grimes as Eddie Ryan.
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