‘Funny Girl’ producers quash rumors, say Beanie Feldstein’s exit was mutual decision
The producers of Broadway’s “Funny Girl” say they “were not blindsided” by outgoing star Beanie Feldstein’s announcement on Monday that she’d leave the musical months earlier than her planned departure.
Despite reports to the contrary, Feldstein’s decision to exit at the end of the month rather than in September, when she was was meant to take her final bow as titular star Fanny Brice, was a mutual one.
In a joint statement to People, the producers and a rep for the “Booksmart” actor said Wednesday that Feldstein’s departure was a decision they came to “together professionally, respectfully and graciously.”
‘Glee’ actor Lea Michele will star in ‘Funny Girl’ on Broadway. The ‘different direction’ pushed Beanie Feldstein to exit two months earlier than expected.
“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.”
“Funny Girl,” Broadway’s first revival of the beloved musical, centers on legendary Jewish vaudeville star Fanny Brice — a role made famous onstage by Barbra Streisand in the 1960s and in the 1968 film adaptation, for which she received an Oscar. The superstar reprised the role in the 1975 sequel “Funny Lady.”
But Feldstein received mixed reviews.
“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.”
The first Broadway revival of ‘Funny Girl’ reveals why it’s taken so long to return.
On Monday, show producers announced that “Glee” alum Lea Michele — who belted a number of “Funny Girl” songs during her run on the Fox musical series — will replace Feldstein in the show, marking her return to Broadway since exiting “Spring Awakening” in 2009. It’s also her first major role since reports about her troubling behavior made headlines in 2020.
After Feldstein completes her stint as Brice at the August Wilson Theatre at the end of the month, standby Julie Benko will play the role from Aug. 2 to Sept. 4. Michele will assume the part on Sept. 6, alongside Broadway veteran Tovah Feldshuh as Mrs. Brice (replacing Michele’s former “Glee” co-star Jane Lynch) and current cast members Ramin Karimloo as Nick Arnstein and Jared Grimes as Eddie Ryan.
Times staff writer Ashley Lee contributed to this report.
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