At 'Funny Girl,' you can't rain on Lea Michele's parade.

 At 'Funny Girl,' you can't rain on Lea Michele's parade.

At 'Funny Girl,' you can't rain on Lea Michele's parade.

is Lea's fate, "Feldshuh added. "This has been stewing in her mind since 'Glee' and the rollercoaster ride that the show took, for better or worse — for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health — it never stopped. And it has now passed through a different tunnel. And I hope the audience continues to enjoy it."


Michele's replacement is another step toward respectability for the actor after former "Glee" castmates accused him of racist and bullying behavior in 2020. Michele blamed her privilege and "immaturity," despite being unable to recall any specific incident.


Jared Grimes, who received a Tony Award nomination as a featured actor in a musical, is another supporter of the Broadway changes. He described how Michele "grabbed the role by the horns."


"It was as if I were watching someone who had spent her entire life preparing for this role in this project." It was completely instinctive. "It was a lot of fun to watch," he said. "She didn't leave any meat on the bone."


"I was like, 'OK, cool.'" We're bringing in some heavyweights, and it's time to have some fun in a new way.'"

I've always wanted to play this part. But I know I couldn't have played it at any other time in my life. It's the experiences, I believe. "It's what I've been through in my life," Michele explained, citing marriage and motherhood as influences.


Ramin Karimloo, who plays Brice's love interest in "Funny Girl," a Broadway veteran, worked with Feldstein and said Michele brings a different Fanny to the show — not better, just different.


"It's just an embarrassment of riches." "I had one version and now I have this version," he explained. "There's a new life and a different life coming in." So I'm looking forward to it."


Michele's appearance on Tuesday isn't the only casting change. Tovah Feldshuh, a four-time Tony Award nominee, will take over as Fanny's mother from Emmy winner Jane Lynch.


It's also a remarkable full-circle moment for Feldshuh, who remembers seeing Streisand live in the role on Broadway in 1964. "I believe Fanny Brice is the greatest female role ever written in American musical theater," she said. This summer's high-profile casting change shook the Broadway community, with Feldstein leaving shortly after Michele was announced, giving the impression that things backstage were strained at best. Michele pointed out that one actor taking the place of another on Broadway is nothing new.


"People come into shows and people leave shows." "I think the media is very drawn to drama, particularly pitting women against each other, which I think is so unfortunate," Michele said. "All I can say for myself is how grateful I am to have been welcomed into what I know has been a lot of just different changes."


Michele praised Feldstein — "I think that Beanie was fantastic" — as well as her understudy, Julie Benko, who will perform Thursday nights — and threw herself into rehearsals. Even Michele, who knows the musical so well, was taken aback by how much work remains to be done.


"I think I had an expectation that I would just walk into this and everything would be super-easy," she explained. "But there are other parts where I had to take the car and completely disassemble it, taking out all the nuts and bolts and then inspect everything, which is extremely scary because you're thinking, 'Wait a second, I have to go on in two weeks.' 'How am I going to put this car back together and then drive it across the country at high speed?'"


To be fair, Fanny is one of the more difficult roles in musical theater to cast, requiring both a set of pipes, some physical comedy skills, and a spunky charm, which may explain why it has taken so long to revive it on theater's biggest stage since Streisand starred in it on Broadway in 1964 and then won an Oscar for the 1968 film version. The songs "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" are included. — Lea Michele was 21 years old when she saw "Funny Girl." She was performing on Broadway in "Spring Awakening," but her personal life was a mess.


"I'd just gotten over a terrible breakup, "She remembers. "I didn't care what was going on in my career. I was so heartbroken that I couldn't believe I had to get up every night and go on stage."


Her "Spring Awakening" director, Michael Mayer, noticed a depressed Michele and prescribed a special theater cure: a large dose of Barbra Streisand as vaudeville comedian Fanny Brice in the film musical "Funny Girl." It was the story of a woman who refused to be dragged down by a man.


That worked: "I fell in love with it." And I fell in love with the story as well as the music. And, of course, there's Barbra." Michele went on to star in "Glee," where she sang "Funny Girl" songs and serenaded Streisand at a tribute with a "Funny Girl" song.


Michele, now 36, is stepping into the role Streisand made famous by taking over the role of Fanny from Beanie Feldstein in the show's first Broadway revival, directed by Mayer once more. It's a dream come true, but it's also caused ripples.

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