Lea Michele Will Join Broadway's 'Funny Girl' as Fanny Brice After Beanie Feldstein's Early Exit

Beanie Feldstein said Sunday night that she would be departing the Broadway revival of Funny Girl early after "the production decided to take the show in a different direction"

Hey Mr. Arnstein, here Lea Michele is!

The Emmy nominated actress will return to Broadway this September, stepping into the role of Fanny Brice in the revival of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill's beloved musical Funny Girl.

Producers announced Michele's casting on Monday, confirming the long-rumored news.

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

Michele will replace Beanie Feldstein, who opened the revival back in April to mixed reviews. The Booksmart actress, 29, had announced in June that she would be leaving the show on Sept. 25, but revealed on Instagram Sunday night that she would be departing early after "the production decided to take the show in a different direction."

Feldstein's last performance will now be on July 31. Michele will join the production on Sept. 6, and will play the role seven times a week, taking off Thursdays.

lea michele

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

For more on Lea Michele joining Funny Girl, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Additionally, Jane 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 demise of Glee fans hoping for a reunion between her and Michele. Four-time Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh will replace her in the role of Brice's mother.

Beanie Feldstein Funny Girl
Matthew Murphy

Michele made her Broadway debut at the age of 8, playing Young Cosette in Les Misérables.

She went on to share the stage with Broadway greats Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime, as well as Alfred Molinain the 20th anniversary production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Her breakout role was in the Tony Award-winning 20006 Broadway production of Spring Awakening, which earned her critical praise including a Drama Desk nomination for outstanding actress in a musical. She recently reprised the role for the musical's 15th anniversary reunion concert. The one-night-only event was depicted in the HBO Max documentary, Spring Awakening: Those You've Known. Michele even joined her former costars again in June to perform a number from the musical on the Tony Awards.

Of course, Michele has long history with Funny Girl. Not only has she been outspoken about her love for Barbra Streisand — who originated the role in 1964 — but her Glee character Rachel Berry played the role of Fanny Brice in a fictional revival of the show, singing many of the musical's iconic shows on the Fox series including "Don't Rain on My Parade," "People," "My Man" and "I'm the Greatest Star."

The actress later expressed her desire to take on the role for real in a 2017 episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. She was even offered the part when Glee creator Ryan Murphy was involved in a potential revival, but a source told PEOPLE she turned it down "mainly because she thought what was done on Glee was everything she could have brought to the role."

Beanie Feldstein, lea michele
Beanie Feldstein, Lea Michele. getty (2)

In Feldstien's announcement on Sunday, she said that walking away from the show sooner than she anticipated was an "extremely difficult decision."

"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," she wrote. "I will never forget this experience and from the bottom of my heart."

"I want to thank every single person who came to the August Wilson for the love and support you have shown me and our amazing cast and crew," Feldstein added. "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."

Funny Girl comes from director Michael Mayer, the Tony Award winner who led a London revival of the musical in 2015 and whose previous work includes Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Spring Awakening. The production features choreography by Ellenore Scott and tap choreography by Ayodele Casel, plus a revised book from Harvey Fierstein and set design by David Zinn.

The show currently stars Ramin Karimloo, Jared Grimes, Peter Francis James, Ephie Aardema, Debra Cardona, Toni DiBuono, and Martin Moran in principal roes. Its acting company includes Miriam Ali, Amber Ardolino, Daniel Beeman, Colin Bradbury, Kurt Csolak,John Michael Fiumara, Leslie Donna Flesner, Afra Hines, Masumi Iwai, Aliah James, Jeremiah James, Danielle Kelsey,Stephen Mark Lukas, Alicia Lundgren, John Manzari, Liz McCartney, Connor McRory, Katie Mitchell, Justin Prescott,Mariah Reives, Leslie Blake Walker and Julie Benko.

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Back in November 2021, Michele praised Feldstein's Funny Girl casting, saying she thought the actress was "an incredible choice.'

"I am so unbelievably excited to see Funny Girl on Broadway," she said o the Little Me: Growing Up Broadway podcast. "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."

"Yes! YOU are the greatest star!" Michele had commented on Feldstein's casting news back in August of that year. "This is going to be epic!!"

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