The producers of Broadway’s Funny Girl say they were “not surprised” by outgoing star Beanie Feldstein’s announcement Monday that she was leaving the musical months ahead of schedule.
Despite reports to the contrary, Feldstein’s decision to exit at the end of the month rather than September when she was due to take her final arc as titular Fanny Brice was amicable.
In a joint statement to People on Wednesday, the producers and a rep for the “Booksmart” actor said Feldstein’s departure was a decision they made “together in a professional, respectful and gracious manner.”
“The producers have decided to take the show in a different direction and terminate Beanie’s contract on September 25, 6 months earlier than expected,” the statement said. “A month after making that decision, Beanie decided it would be best for her to leave on July 31st.”
Producers said they were “aware of and supportive of their decision.”
‘Funny Girl’, Broadway’s first revival of the popular musical, revolves around legendary Jewish variety show star Fanny Brice – a role that made Barbra Streisand famous on stage in the 1960s and in the 1968 film adaptation, for which she earned a Oscar received. The superstar reprized the role in the 1975 sequel Funny Lady.
But Feldstein received mixed reviews.
“Though boldly standing up for herself, she never embraces the role,” wrote Times theater critic Charles McNulty. “Feldstein has an agile face and a knack for pitfalls, but she’s not a master clown yet. And her singing is a mixed blessing. She can belt out “Don’t Rain on My Parade” with enough power to get the audience on their feet in ecstasy by the end of the first act, but her easygoing voice rarely gains traction.”
On Monday, the show’s producers announced that “Glee” graduate Lea Michele – who belted out a slew of “Funny Girl” songs while appearing on the Fox musical series – will replace Feldstein on the show, marking her return to Broadway. since she left Spring Awakening in 2009. It’s also her first major role since reports of her disturbing behavior hit the headlines in 2020.
After Feldstein ends her role as Brice at the August Wilson Theater later this month, replacement Julie Benko will take on the role from August 2nd through September 4th. Michele will take on the role on September 6, alongside Broadway veteran Tovah Feldshuh as Mrs. Brice (replacing Michele’s former “Glee” co-star Jane Lynch) and current cast members Ramin Karimloo as Nick Arnstein and Jared Grimes as Eddie Ryan.
Ashley Lee, a Times contributor, contributed to this report.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-07-14/funny-girl-producers-say-beanie-feldstein-exit-a-mutual-decision ‘Funny Girl’ producers shut down rumors on Feldstein exit