Why Lea Michele’s role in Funny Girl on Broadway has caused such a stir

Jaime E. Love

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Lea Michele will replace Beanie Feldstein as the lead role of Broadway’s Funny Girl.

AP

Lea Michele will replace Beanie Feldstein as the lead role of Broadway’s Funny Girl.

Former Glee star Lea Michele is the butt of the internet’s jokes after taking over the leading role in Broadway’s Funny Girl.

Michele has replaced Beanie Feldstein as Fanny Brice after the actress chose to leave the show following negative reviews.

Show producers said they respect Feldstein’s decision and were not blind-sided by the news.

The casting of Funny Girl’s Fanny Brice has been highly contested since Feldstein was announced to play the character. Social media users immediately drew Michele into the casting conversation, as the singer/actress has famously and consistently expressed her desire to play Brice in the past.

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In Glee’s fifth season, Michele’s character Rachel Berry fulfilled a dream that dominated much of the show’s plot line – playing Fanny Brice in a Funny Girl revival.

In 2014, a year after Glee’s depiction of Funny Girl, Michele revealed she was in talks to portray Brice in a real-life production after Glee director Ryan Murphy acquired rights to the show.

By the following year the plans were dashed.

Now, social media has been ablaze with jokes amid the announcement of Michele taking over from Feldstein. While this may be a dream career move for Michele, the internet has turned the actress into a laughingstock.

Michele has been the subject of backlash over the years for reportedly being a difficult and allegedly a bully.

Glee co-star Samantha Marie Ware took to Twitter in 2020 to reveal Michele made her experience a “living hell.” After Michele apologised for the incident, more former colleagues tweeted about their nightmarish experiences with her, with one saying Michele would refer to the background actors as “cockroaches.”

In 2018, a conspiracy theory emerged on podcast One More Thing that claimed Michele is illiterate.

The theory draws on passages from Glee co-star Naya Rivera’s memoir, in which she says Michele would memorise her lines by hearing them and couldn’t read the music on the show.

This theory regularly resurfaces across social media.

Actress Jane Lynch was playing the role of Brice’s mother in Funny Girl but also quit with Feldstein. Lynch starred as Sue Sylvester in Glee, the mean-spirited cheerleading coach who consistently terrorised the glee club.

Twitter users have jumped at the chance to compare Lynch’s exit, which will come just a day before Michele is set to take the stage, to a similar scene on Glee – while Michele/Berry performs onstage for her opening night as Brice, Lynch/Sylvester dramatically walks out of the audience.

Sometimes, life really does imitate art.

Funny Girl debuted in 1969, with Barbra Streisand playing the lead. The role propelled her into stardom and spawned generations of fans worldwide.

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