It's official! Lea Michele will take over as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl on Broadway, succeeding Beanie Feldstein who will depart the production on July 31st. Michele will begin performances on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Michele is often credited as reintroducing the show to an entire generation of musical theatre fans due to her Glee character Rachel Berry's series-long obsession with the show's original star, Barbra Streisand.
Fanny Brice standby, Julie Benko, will perform the title role Tuesday, August 2 - Sunday, September 4, 2022 and on Thursdays beginning Thursday, September 8, 2022. Feldstein was previously scheduled to depart the production with co-star Jane Lynch on September 25th. Lynch now remain with the production only through Labor Day. Tovah Feldshuh will take over the role of Mrs. Brice on September 6th.
Lea Michele is an award-winning actress, singer and NY Times Best Selling author. She is best known for her role as "Rachel Berry" on Ryan Murphy's critically acclaimed, Golden Globe- and SAG Award-winning series, "Glee." In 2010, Michele was honored with an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Actress - Comedy. In 2012 and 2013, Michele won the TEEN CHOICE Award for Choice TV Actress: Comedy. In 2013, she also won a People's Choice Award for Best TV Comedic Actress.
At just eight years old, Lea Michele made her Broadway debut as "Young Cosette" in Les Misérables. Since then, Michele has shared the stage with Broadway greats Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime, as well as Alfred Molina in the 20th anniversary production of Fiddler on the Roof. She also received raved reviews for her stage performance in the role of "Wendla" for the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of Spring Awakening, which earned her a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. She recently reprised her role of "Wendla" in Spring Awakening for the 15th anniversary of the production with the original cast. During a spectacular one night only reunion concert the group came back together to benefit The Actors Fund. You can catch this performance in the new HBO docuseries; "Spring Awakening: Those You've Known," available on HBO Max.
While appearing on television and stage, Michele's love for music has been a focus point in her career. Michele has had the honoring of singing for The President and performing at the Superbowl. She has released 4 albums, "FOREVER", "Christmas in the City", "Places" and "Louder" and has also traveled around the world on multiple concert tours including a joint tour with fellow "Glee" alum Darren Criss.
Michele is also a best-selling author releasing "Brunette Ambition," which was a NY Times Best Seller as well as her follow up book, "You First".
Tovah Feldshuh is thrilled to be working with Lea Michele and the company of Funny Girl. Feldshuh is a six time Emmy & Tony nominee and has been awarded three honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters. Additionally, for her theatre work, she has won four Drama Desks, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, three Dramalogues, the Obie, the Theatre World, and the Helen Hayes and Lucille Lortel Awards for Best Actress. She has recently been twice nominated as Best Actress in Los Angeles for her work in Jonathan Shapiro's Sisters-in-Law, originating the role of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Broadway: Cyrano, Rodgers & Hart, Dreyfus in Rehearsal, Yentl, Saravá!, Lend Me a Tenor, Golda's Balcony, Irena's Vow, and the show-stopping, trapeze-swinging Berthe in Pippin. Off-Broadway and around the country: Playing everything from Juliet to Tallulah Bankhead to three queens of Henry VIII to nine Jews from birth to death in Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! Most recently she portrayed famed sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer in Mark St. Germain's Becoming Dr. Ruth directed by Scott Schwartz.
On TV: Deanna Monroe "The Walking Dead", Danielle Melnick "Law & Order", POTUS Pauline Mackenzie "Salvation", and Naomi Bunch "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" where Feldshuh can be seen singing the dignified showstopper: "Where's the Bathroom!" In 2021, she completed filming "Scenes from a Marriage" for HBO opposite Oscar Isaac.
On Film: Kissing Jessica Stein, (Golden Satellite Award), A Walk on the Moon, Brewster's Millions, Just My Luck, Daniel, The Idolmaker, Clifford the Big Red Dog for Paramount, and Ms. Feldshuh's award-winning performance as Prime Minister Golda Meir in Golda's Balcony which has been made into the award-winning motion picture Golda's Balcony The Film. She will soon be seen Armageddon Time opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins and Anne Hathaway, and Start Without Me produced by Matt Damon, opposite Finn Wittrock.
In Concert: Her one-woman shows, "Tovah is LEONA!" (Helmsley) and "Aging is Optional" enjoy sold-out engagements and rave reviews around the country. "Tovah: Out of Her Mind" has played all over the world and was voted Best One Woman Show of the Year by the BOSTON GLOBE.
On the Page: Tovah's first memoir, "Lilyville: Mother, Daughter, and Other Roles I've Played" was published last April by Hachette Book Group, and was named #1 New Release in Parent Child Relationships.
She's the wife of New York attorney, Andrew Harris Levy, the mother of Brandon, married to Jami, and Amanda, married to Joel, and the grandmother of Rafael Levi, Sidney Mei, Camille Willa, and Amelia.
Julie Benko is an actress, singer, and writer currently marching her band out on Broadway as the standby for Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. She has performed on stages on and off-Broadway and across the country, including Broadway turns in Fiddler on the Roof and Les Misérables and the national tour of Spring Awakening. She is a recipient of the Wilde Award for "Best Leading Actress in a Musical" for her performance as Girl in Once. She also received a BroadwayWorld Award nomination for "Best Leading Actress in a Musical" for her portrayal of Luisa in The Fantasticks, as well as Theatre Bay Area Awards and SF Critics Circle Awards "Best Featured Actress in a Musical" nominations for her turn as Bella in Rags.
Julie's debut jazz album, Introducing Julie Benko, is currently available on all streaming platforms. Her new album, Hand in Hand, will be released on August 26th on Club44 Records. She lent her voice to the 85th Academy Awards and the 70th Tony Awards ceremonies, performed as a soloist with numerous symphonies, and earned the Gold Medal and the Johnny Mercer Award in the national American Traditions Vocal Competition. Her writing projects include the full-length play "The District" (a 2022 semifinalist at the Eugene O'Neill's National Theater Conference) and the short film "The Newlywed's Guide to Physical Intimacy," which has garnered awards at film festivals across the nation. She holds a BFA and MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
Tony Award winner Michael Mayer directs this brand-new Funny Girl, featuring the classic score by Tony, Grammy and Academy Award winner Jule Styne and lyrics by Tony Award nominee and Grammy Award winner Bob Merrill, (comprising additional songs from Styne & Merrill). The original book by Isobel Lennart, from an original story by Miss Lennart, is revised by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein.
Funny Girl features choreography by Ellenore Scott, tap choreography by Ayodele Casel, scenic design by Tony Award winner David Zinn, costume design by Tony Award winner Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Tony Award winner Kevin Adams, sound design by Tony Award winner Brian Ronan, hair & wig design by Campbell Young Associates, music direction and supervision by Emmy Award winner Michael Rafter, casting by Jim Carnahan, CSA and Jason Thinger, orchestrations by Chris Walker, dance, vocal and incidental music arrangements by Alan Williams, and additional arrangements by David Dabbon and Carmel Dean.
This bittersweet comedy is the story of the indomitable Fanny Brice, a girl from the Lower East Side who dreamed of a life on the stage. Everyone told her she'd never be a star, but then something funny happened-she became one of the most beloved performers in history, shining brighter than the brightest lights of Broadway.
Photo Credit: Bruce Glikas