Michele has a past with Fanny Brice; her “Glee” character, Rachel Berry, played several “Funny Girl” numbers on the show and even landed the part in the revival of the fictional universe. On Monday afternoon, after that storyline became a reality, Michele wrote on Instagram that “a dream come true is an understatement.”
The revival of “Funny Girl,” a well-received production that was adapted into a hit Streisand-starring film in 1968, opened in late April after years of rumors and subsequent delays. After Feldstein took a break from the show because she tested positive for the coronavirus, she announced in June that her last appearance would be on September 25. The production confirmed the news on Twitter, adding that actress Jane Lynch, who played Ms. Brice, would be exciting too.
Feldstein then shared in a statement posted to Instagram on Sunday night that she would be leaving “Funny Girl” at the end of July — two months ahead of the initially announced date. She attributed her early departure — a highly unusual Broadway event — to the production deciding to “steer the show in a different direction.”
“I will never forget this experience and from the bottom of my heart I would like to thank everyone who came to the August Wilson. [Theatre] for the love and support you have shown me and our amazing cast and crew,” the statement reads. “The people I have had the great joy of bringing Funny Girl to life every night, both on and off stage, are all remarkably talented and exceptional people.”
Lynch is also now leaving ahead of schedule, making her final bow on September 4. mrs. Brice is played by four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh. (Standby Julie Benko plays Fanny Brice in August and on Thursdays from September.)
“Funny Girl” received mostly negative reviews. Frank Rizzo of Variety called it “underpowered.” Jesse Green of the New York Times argued that the revival “shows why it took so long.” While noting her industrious nature, critics drew on Feldstein’s vocal abilities, especially in contrast to Streisand’s.
Peter Marks of the Washington Post stated that “for example, while you flatly believed that Streisand was a star, with Feldstein, your main belief is that she believes she’s a star.”
According to weekly statistics from the Broadway League, a trade organization, “Funny Girl” filled the August Wilson to a capacity of 97.8 percent in mid-May, likely due to strong pre-review sales. By early July, that number had fallen to just under 75 percent.
This piece has been updated.