'Funny Girl' Producers Set the Record Straight on Beanie Feldstein's Exit as Lea Michele Steps In

"The producers of Funny Girl were not blindsided by Beanie's social post," producers for the show and a rep for Feldstein tell PEOPLE in an exclusive joint statement

The reason behind Beanie Feldstein's exit from the Broadway revival of Funny Girl is being clarified in a new joint statement exclusively to PEOPLE from producers and her rep.

Back in April, 29-year-old Feldstein debuted as Fanny Brice, a role made famous by Barbra Streisand. The new production was met with mixed reviews, and the Tony Awards didn't acknowledge the lead actress in its nominations. (The production received only one nomination in total, for featured actor Jared Grimes.)

After some missed performances throughout her run, including while she tested positive for COVID at one point, the production and Feldstein announced in mid June that Sept. 25 would be her final bow as Brice. "I gave and will continue to give this show all of me," she said at the time.

However, this past Sunday, Feldstein said in a statement shared on social media that she will now be leaving July 31. "Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction," she wrote, "I made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than anticipated."

Hours later, the show tweeted that a new casting announcement was imminent.

The next day, the Funny Girl production revealed that Lea Michele — who memorably performed Funny Girl tunes on Glee when her character Rachel Berry starred in a revival on the series — would be taking over the role starting Sept. 6. Fellow Glee alum Jane Lynch, who plays Feldstein's mom in the Broadway show, will also step down as Tovah Feldshuh fills that role.

Beanie Feldstein, Lea Michele
George Pimentel/WireImage; Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty

Though rumors swirled that Feldstein had caught the production team off guard by announcing her earlier-than-expected exit via her social media, Funny Girl producers and the actress' rep exclusively tell PEOPLE that the exit plan was mutually agreed upon.

"The producers of Funny Girl were not blindsided by Beanie's social post," producers for the show and a rep for Feldstein tell PEOPLE in an exclusive joint statement. "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."

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Ramin Karimloo as "Nick Arnstein" and Beanie Feldstein as "Fanny Brice"
Bruce Glikas/WireImage

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."

Another insider adds that the show's mixed critical reception was not reason behind her want for an early exit. "Regardless of how the show was received, Beanie was committed to playing the role through the entirety of her contract," the source says.

A rep for Michele did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Back in November, Michele, 35, commented about Feldstein's Funny Girl casting, saying on the Little Me: Growing Up Broadway podcast at the time, "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."

Michele previously worked with director Mayer when she was on Broadway for Spring Awakening, which just had a documentary reunion special with its cast, streaming on HBO Max.

Reacting to the new casting announcement, Michele wrote on Instagram, "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."

Feldstein has not yet commented about Michele taking on the role after her final bow, but Lynch told Deadline Tuesday that it was a "really strong idea" to have Michele and Feldshuh both debut together rather than stagger their takeovers. Lynch added that Michele is "just going to take this show and make it her own."

In her statement, Feldstein called playing Fanny Brice a "lifelong dream of mine" and said "doing so for the last few months has been a great joy and true honor."

"The people I have had the great joy of bringing Funny Girl to life with every night, both on and off the stage, are all remarkably talented and exceptional humans and I hope you continue to join them on Henry Street after I depart," she added.

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