A Complete Timeline of the 'Funny Girl' Casting Saga

Here's a complete breakdown of the drama surrounding Beanie Feldstein and Lea Michele's roles as Fanny Brice on Broadway

Broadway's Funny Girl has had some major shakeups since it first premiered in 2022.

The musical, which originally starred Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in the 1964 Broadway production and the 1968 film, was first announced in 2021 with Beanie Feldstein tapped to play the star.

"The first time I played Fanny Brice was at my third birthday party, in a head-to-toe leopard print outfit my mom made for me," Feldstein said in a release at the time of her casting. "So, it's safe to say that stepping into this iconic role, on Broadway and not in my family's backyard, is truly my lifelong dream come true."

After beginning previews in March 2022, the show officially opened on Broadway the following month, receiving mixed reviews.

It wasn't long after that Feldstein announced she was departing from the show earlier than expected, noting that her final performance would be in September 2022.

Beanie Feldstein as "Fanny Brice"; Lea Michele as "Fanny Brice"
Bruce Glikas/WireImage; FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Then, another shakeup happened: Feldstein announced she would instead be leaving at the end of July 2022, and the show quickly announced her replacement would be Glee alumna Lea Michele, who famously had an entire storyline on Glee dedicated to her taking on the same role in a Broadway revival.

From the early stages of the show to the recent recasting news, here's a breakdown of the Funny Girl musical saga.

Aug. 11, 2021: Beanie Feldstein is cast in Funny Girl

In August, it was announced that Feldstein — who made her Broadway debut in 2017's Hello, Dolly! alongside Bette Midlerwould star as Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl, marking the show's first return on Broadway since Streisand originated the role in 1964.

The new revival was slated to be directed by Michael Mayer, who previously won a Tony for his work on Spring Awakening starring Michele and Jonathan Groff, with a revised book by Harvey Fierstein.

A few months later, it was announced that Michele's former Glee costar Jane Lynch would be taking on the role of Fanny Brice's mother, alongside Ramin Karimloo as Nick Arnstein and Jared Grimes as Eddie Ryan.

Aug. 16, 2021: Lea Michele shows support for Beanie Feldstein after Funny Girl casting news

Beanie Feldstein; Lea Michele
P. Lehman/Barcroft Media via Getty Images; Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Shortly after Feldstein's casting was announced, Michele's name quickly began trending on Twitter as many expected the Glee star would be a front-runner due to her long history with the musical.

In addition to Michele being a Barbra Streisand superfan, the musical was also an integral part of Michele's character on Glee, Rachel Berry. Rachel sings "Don't Rain on My Parade" during season one and later goes on to star in the Broadway revival after graduating.

In fact, Michele was previously given the opportunity to star as Fanny Brice when Glee creator Ryan Murphy was involved in a potential revival. However, a source tells PEOPLE she turned the role down at the time, "mainly because she thought what was done on Glee was everything she could have brought to the role."

Shortly after Feldstein posted her casting news on Instagram, Michele showed her support, writing in the comments, "Yes! YOU are the greatest star! This is going to be epic!!"

Oct. 8, 2021: Funny Girl shares the first look at Beanie Feldstein as Fanny Brice

Beanie Feldstein Funny Girl
Matthew Murphy

In October, Funny Girl shared the first glimpse of Feldstein as Fanny Brice with a short teaser trailer. In the clip, Feldstein walks backstage as the musical's score plays in the background.

After she steps onstage, Feldstein is shown in her dressing room, where she looks in the mirror and delivers the famous line, "Hello, gorgeous," with a wink.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Feldstein noted that the role of Fanny "felt like home," explaining that she'd loved Funny Girl since she was a child. "I was a unique kid. I was the kid who wanted to watch the film version of Funny Girl more than The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast," Feldstein recalled.

"I would literally beg my mom to put it on at night in lieu of all the Disney classics. I was begging for Barbra on the tugboat, so it's been my favorite story for as long as I can remember. It had a profound impact on me even from the time I was very, very little, under 3 years old. And so, when I found out about this, and there was the opportunity to audition, I couldn't believe it. It was in my wildest dreams."

Oct. 13, 2021: Beanie Feldstein says she doesn't know Lea Michele in real life

During an interview with Andy Cohen on SiriusXM's Radio Andy, Feldstein briefly spoke about Michele, saying that she didn't understand why the Glee actress' name started trending on Twitter after it was announced that she was cast in Funny Girl.

"She very sweetly wrote on my Instagram. I don't know the woman whatsoever, but..." Feldstein said as Cohen cut in to call it a "happy" interaction.

Nov. 12, 2021: Lea Michele doubles down on her support for Beanie Feldstein in Funny Girl

Michele continued to show her support for the revival of Funny Girl as she appeared on the Little Me: Growing Up Broadway podcast.

"There's been so much talk about me coming to Broadway — and not coming to Broadway!" Michele joked. "Listen, I am so unbelievably excited to see Funny Girl on Broadway. I cannot wait. I had drinks with [director] Michael [Mayer] the other day, and I just think that Beanie is an incredible choice for the production, and I think it's going to be so wonderful. I can't wait to see Jane [Lynch] in it as well."

"I think that a lot of people always put me in the lane with Funny Girl because, of course, I love the show and the music. But I did get to do a lot of it on Glee," Michele told Little Me host Marc Tumminelli.

"There were so many shows and so many roles that I would love to play, and I'm so grateful that Broadway is back now," Michele continued, adding: "But for me to come back to Broadway… Maybe I am coming back to Broadway!"

April 24, 2022: Funny Girl opens on Broadway

Beanie Feldstein
Bruce Glikas/WireImage

After beginning previews on March 26, the show officially opened on Broadway on April 24. In an interview with E! News, Feldstein noted that bringing the role of Fanny Brice to life "is heaven."

"This group of people is once in a lifetime," she told the publication. "I cannot explain to you how kind everyone in this building is off stage and on stage. The crew, the creative team, a room full of passionate, caring people. That is all that matters in this world."

Despite the initial enthusiasm surrounding the revival, the show quickly received mixed reviews upon its opening with many critics noting that Feldstein felt miscast in the role of Fanny Brice.

May 9, 2022: Funny Girl is mostly snubbed at the Tony Awards

Shortly after the show's opening, Funny Girl was generally snubbed as the Tony Award nominations were announced on May 9. While breakout star Jared Grimes received a nod for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical, the show received no other nominations.

The Funny Girl cast also didn't perform at the June 12 ceremony, but Michele notably did as she joined her former Spring Awakening cast to celebrate the musical's 15th anniversary with a special performance.

June 6, 2022: Beanie Feldstein steps down as Fanny Brice as she recovers from COVID-19

In early June, Feldstein announced she was temporarily stepping down as Fanny Brice as she tested positive for COVID-19.

"I just found out that I tested positive for COVID so unfortunately, I'm going to be out of the show for a little while to keep everybody safe," Feldstein said in an Instagram video. "I'm very grateful to not be feeling too bad," she continued. "I'm just really bummed to not be seeing everyone at the theater. And I cannot wait to get back on stage very soon."

Around the same time, it was announced that standby Julie Benko would officially be taking over the role in the interim. During her short time in the role, Benko quickly gained a following online, especially on TikTok, as fans raved over her performance as Fanny.

June 15, 2022: Beanie Feldstein announces she's leaving Funny Girl

On June 15, Feldstein revealed that she would be returning to the show on June 16 as she marked "the end of Quarantbean." In the same post, she also announced that she would officially be departing from the show at the end of September, with her final performance set for Sept. 25.

"I'll never be able to find the words that could even begin to explain what the experience has been to me," she said in her post. "I gave and will continue to give this show all of me. I am immensely proud to be a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls," she concluded. "I am so deeply grateful for every other bagel that comes to Henry Street with us every night. Can't wait to see you all there through September."

According to EW's conversation with director Michael Mayer prior to rehearsals, Feldstein was originally committed to the production for a year.

Around the same time, it was announced that Lynch, who plays Mrs. Brice, would be leaving the show, with her final performance also slated for Sept. 25.

July 10, 2022: Beanie Feldstein announces she's leaving Funny Girl even earlier than expected

Nearly a month after announcing her September exit, Feldstein made the surprise announcement that she would be leaving Funny Girl even earlier than expected.

In an Instagram post shared on July 10, Feldstein revealed that she would be stepping down from the production at the end on July 31.

"Playing Fanny Brice on Broadway has been a lifelong dream of mine and doing so for the last few months has been a great joy and true honor," Feldstein wrote. "Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than anticipated."

Shortly after, the show's official Twitter account announced that they would be announcing some "exciting casting announcements" the following day.

July 11, 2022: Lea Michele is cast as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl

lea michele

On July 11, Funny Girl confirmed the long-rumored news (first reported by Gawker) that Michele would be stepping into the role of Fanny Brice, with her first performance slated for Sept. 6.

In the interim, Benko, who has been Feldstein's standby, will perform the role from Aug. 2 through Sept. 4, and every Thursday beginning Sept. 8.

Additionally, it was announced that Lynch — who was also previously set to leave the show on Sept. 25 — will now depart the production on Sept. 4 too, much to the distress of Glee fans hoping for a reunion between her and Michele. Four-time Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh is set to replace her in the role of Brice's mother.

Michele reacted to the casting news on Instagram shortly after, writing, "A dream come true is an understatement. I'm so incredibly honored to join this amazing cast and production and return to the stage playing Fanny Brice on Broadway."

July 12, 2022: Julie Benko welcomes Lea Michele to the cast of Funny Girl in a TikTok video

Shortly after Feldstein's departure and Michele's casting was announced, Feldstein's standby Benko reacted to the news on TikTok.

"There's been a lot of questions about what's going on at Funny Girl, so I wanted to tell you what the plan is," Benko began her video. While she noted that she is going to "miss Beanie a lot," she added that she is "looking forward to meeting Lea and welcoming her to the company and celebrating her."

"I think everybody is super talented and brings a really unique piece of themselves to this role and makes the show totally different and fun in a new way," she concluded her video. "Come see all the Fannys. Gotta catch em all!"

July 12, 2022: Jane Lynch reacts to Lea Michele's casting in Funny Girl

Jane Lynch and Lea Michele pose backstage at Love, Loss and What I Wore at The Westside Theater
Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

In an interview with Deadline about her outstanding guest actress in a comedy Emmy nomination for Only Murders in the Building, Lynch addressed Michele's recent casting news, noting that she and her former Glee costar "have been in touch about it."

"You know, it was just a really strong idea to have [Feldshuh] and [Michele] premiere together. That's the only reason [we won't appear together]. I adore her," she said of Michele. "She's just going to take this show and make it her own."

She continued, "I'm so glad she's getting the opportunity in real life to do the show and not just on Glee."

July 13, 2022: Funny Girl ticket prices surge following Lea Michele's casting announcement

On July 13, Variety reported that ticket prices for the show have gone up considerably following Michele's casting news. Most notably, tickets for Michele's opening night are selling for $570 on the low end on SeatGeek and $2,500 on the high end. In comparison, ticket prices in July and August start at $69, according to SeatGeek.

July 13, 2022: Funny Girl producers and Beanie Feldstein's rep set the record straight to PEOPLE

In an exclusive joint statement to PEOPLE, the show's producers and a representative for Feldstein denied reports that Feldstein had "blindsided" producers with her early-exit announcement.

"The producers of Funny Girl were not blindsided by Beanie's social post," producers for the show and a rep for Feldstein said. "The producers decided to take the show in a different direction and end Beanie's contract on September 25th, 6 months earlier than anticipated. A month after that decision, Beanie decided it was best for her to leave on July 31st. The producers were aware of and in support of her decision. The producers and Beanie worked on this together professionally, respectfully and graciously."

Still, a source tells PEOPLE that the decision to bring Michele in as its new star was "a very smart financial decision" for Funny Girl, adding: "You could not overcome the reviews and the lack of the Tony nomination."

July 15, 2022: Beanie Feldstein reveals she has tonsillitis

In a video shared on July 15, Feldstein revealed that she has tonsillitis and will be missing the upcoming weekend performances. In the clip, she also cheekily referenced the show's recent series of events, saying, "Hey, everybody. I'm just checking in. What have I missed? What's been going on?" She ended her video, adding, "When it rains, it pours on your old pal, Bean."

July 26, 2022: Lea Michele posts her Funny Girl script

On July 26, Michele teased that she was getting ready for Funny Girl rehearsals as posted a picture of her script on her Instagram Story alongside the text, "Here we go..." She followed up by sharing a screenshot of her text exchange with Jonathan Groff, who wished her well on her "first official day" at Funny Girl.

July 31, 2022: Beanie Feldstein puts on her final performance

On July 31, Feldstein gave her final bow on Funny Girl. Following her performance, she shared a photo of her with the cast on stage alongside the quote, "But now it's just another show
And you leave 'em laughing when you go." She also reshared a handful of congratulatory messages from her friends and castmates on her Instagram Story.

Aug. 9, 2022: Jane Lynch announces she's leaving Funny Girl early

In a release, the show announced that Lynch would be departing from the musical revival on Aug. 14 — three weeks earlier than originally announced.

She was initially scheduled to put on her last performance on Sept. 4, but has a long-scheduled vacation coming up (between Aug. 15 and Aug. 23) and is planning on attending the Creative Arts Emmys in Los Angeles on Sept. 1 (where she nominated for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series thanks to her work on Hulu's Only Murders in the Building). Rather than return for one week of performances, producers agreed to adjust Lynch's final performance.

In her absence, standby Liz McCartney is scheduled to play the role of Fanny Brice's mom from Aug. 16 through Sept. 4, before Tovah Feldshuh takes over the part on Sept. 6.

Sept. 1, 2022: Michael Mayer reveals Lea Michele was originally considered for Funny Girl revival

In a New York Times profile of Michele, Mayer revealed that the actress was initially considered for the role of Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical, but he didn't think she'd be ready to work as she had just had a baby.

After Feldstein was cast, he noted that he had a conversation with Michele, telling her, "Look, I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but this is what we're doing," he recalled to the publication. He added that he told Michele, "I would love to do Funny Girl with you some time."

Michele later reached out to Mayer in November 2021 and offered to step in as Feldstein's replacement when her run ended, noting that she would "honored" to play the role.

Sept. 2, 2022: Lea Michele shuts down feuding rumors with Beanie Feldstein

In an interview with PEOPLE, Michele opened up about her casting and the controversy surrounding Feldstein's exit.

"I think that everybody just thinks everything is so drama-filled," she told PEOPLE. "I also think that people really love the excitement of pitting women against each other, which I think is really sad and unfortunate."

She also revealed that she saw Feldstein perform in the show and wrote her afterward to tell her what an "incredible" job she did. "I thought she was hilarious and beautiful and so wonderful. This is not an easy role, and she took it on with such bravery. And I wrote her and told her that."

Sept. 6, 2022: Lea Michele gets rave reviews for her opening night of Funny Girl

Michele had the support of her friend Jonathan Groff, Glee creator Ryan Murphy, and many others as she took the stage for her first Funny Girl performance. According to people in attendance at the show, Michele received a total of four standing ovations before the end of Act 1, including one after the show's signature tune, "Don't Rain on My Parade." Another two followed in the show's second act.

At intermission, the aisles were packed with audience members gushing about Michele's vocals, her comedic timing, and the all-around excitement in the house. "I haven't had a night like this in the theater in years," Fierstein, who punched up the musical's book, told a friend as he made his way back to his seat.

Oct. 31, 2022: Ben Platt says Beanie Feldstein wants "everybody to move on" from Funny Girl casting drama

As Ben Platt prepared for his own return to Broadway with the revival of Parade, he briefly spoke with The New York Times about his close friend Feldstein and her "bumpy ride" with Funny Girl.

When asked what he made of that experience, he said, "I know more than anything, she just wants everybody to move on. So I'll just say that I love her and I admire her strength."

Nov. 18, 2022: Funny Girl releases Broadway cast recording with Lea Michele

On Nov. 16, Michele announced that she and the cast would be releasing a cast recording of Funny Girl, which was later made available on Nov. 18.

"This is the biggest dream come true for all of us. I am so proud of this show and can't wait for you all to hear this album," she wrote on Instagram at the time.

Despite Feldstein originating the role of Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival, Michele's marked the first cast recording of the album.

Dec. 20, 2022: Funny Girl breaks a Broadway box office record

In December 2022, the show "collected $2.005 million over eight performances during the week ending on Dec. 18, setting a benchmark for the highest gross at the August Wilson Theatre and for the production," per Variety. Previously, Broadway's Mean Girls held the house record with $1.994 million in 2018.

March 2, 2023: Funny Girl announces closing date on Broadway

In March 2023, Funny Girl announced that it will play its final performance on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023. It was also announced that Michele, Feldshuh, Ramin Karimloo, and Jared Grimes, extended their run and will remain with the show until its final performance.

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