It’s official: Lea Michele is Broadway’s new “Funny Girl.”
Producers confirmed Monday that Michele will assume the role of Ziegfeld Follies comedian Fanny Brice in the musical starting Sept. 6, succeeding current star Beanie Feldstein.
“A dream come true is an understatement,” Michele wrote on Instagram. “I’m so incredibly honored to join this amazing cast and production and return to the stage playing Fanny Brice on Broadway. See you September 6th.”
Joining Michele will be actor Tovah Feldshuh, who is replacing Jane Lynch as Mrs. Brice, Fanny’s mother. Actors Ramin Karimloo and Jared Grimes, who starred alongside Feldstein in the roles of Nick Arnstein and Eddie Ryan, will remain with the production.
Michele last appeared on Broadway in 2006, when she originated the role of Wendla in “Spring Awakening.” Rumors of her “Funny Girl” casting had been circulating on social media and some entertainment outlets for weeks prior to the announcement.
The musical is familiar territory for the actor, who performed several songs from the show over the course of her six-season run on “Glee.” Her “Glee” character, Rachel Berry, also played Fanny Brice on Broadway during the show’s fifth season.
The announcement comes just one day after Feldstein confirmed her early departure from “Funny Girl” in a cryptic Instagram post. Though the “Booksmart” and “Lady Bird” actor had been slated to remain in the production through Sept. 25, her final performance will now be July 31.
“Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than expected,” she wrote. “I will never forget this experience and from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every single person who came to the August Wilson [Theatre] for the love and support you have shown me and our amazing cast and crew.”
Actor Julie Benko, who is Feldstein’s current standby, will play Fanny Brice in the interim weeks before Michele joins the cast. She’ll continue to perform the role on Thursday nights this fall.
The character of Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl” has long been associated with Barbra Streisand, who originated the role on Broadway in 1964 and won an Oscar for the movie adaptation four years later. The current production of “Funny Girl” marks the first time that the show has been revived on Broadway since its premiere 58 years ago.
Feldstein’s performance, however, received a frosty reception from critics. Many felt the actor’s singing voice was not well suited for the challenging score, which includes such classics as “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “People.” The show was also noticeably absent from the 2022 Tony Awards last month, in spite of a featured actor nomination for Grimes.