If you haven’t heard that Lea Michele is playing the role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl on Broadway, then I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under. Broadway news rarely transcends the theater world, but this announcement has blown up the entertainment news cycle as real life and television have become one. For six seasons of Glee, audiences watched Rachel Berry idolize and eventually play the titular role of Fanny Brice on Broadway in a plot line inspired by Michele’s real desire for the part. Beginning September 6th, those same audiences can watch Lea Michele become Fanny Brice IRL. It’s all very meta.
Michele wrote of the news on Instagram, “A dream come true is an understatement,” but for some involved in the show’s production, the whole thing has been a nightmare. As a self-proclaimed theater-kid-who-can’t-sing and a Lea Michele fanatic, I have been following this chaos since the moment the revival was announced. But for those whose hobbies do not include scrolling through theater Twitter for hours, here’s the tea that’s tearing through midtown Manhattan.
This dramatic tale could begin in the early 2000s, but the easiest place to start would be the announcement of the Funny Girl revival starring Beanie Feldstein this past August. The musical, which tells the story of Jewish actress Fanny Brice’s journey to fame, originally starred Barbra Streisand in the 1964 Broadway production and 1968 film. Feldstein, known for her performance as Monica Lewinsky in American Crime Story: Impeachment in addition to significant roles in Lady Bird, Booksmart, and Hello, Dolly! on Broadway, said in a statement that her casting was a “lifelong dream come true”.
As Feldstein was celebrating her new job, the internet only thought of one person: Lea Michele. She has made her desire to play Fanny Brice obvious for the past 13 years, singing several songs from Funny Girl and idolizing Barbra Streisand while playing Rachel Berry on Glee; performing the musical’s iconic tune “Don’t Rain on My Parade” at the 2012 Tony Awards; honoring Streisand at various events; and even writing about her love for both Babs and Funny Girl in her book, Brunette Ambition. Given this connection, Michelle was trending on Twitter the day Beanie Feldstein’s casting was announced with users either laughing or crying at Michele’s snub.
The Funny Girl revival opened on Broadway this April, and the reviews were harsh. The New York Times wrote that “You root for [Feldstein] to raise the roof, but she only bumps against it a little. Her voice, though solid and sweet and clear, is not well suited to the music.” For an iconic lead role with such a famous predecessor, Feldstein had big shoes to fill. To top it all off, Funny Girl was essentially shut out of the Tony Awards. It received a singular Tony nomination for supporting actor Jared Grimes’ performance while other Broadway revivals received between five and ten. Beanie was also missing performances, and when she was there, she was singing to an audience barely over half full.
At this point, everything at Funny Girl is heading downhill. Basically no Tony nominations, bad reviews, and low ticket sales. At the same time, something interesting is occurring elsewhere: Lea Michele is rebranding and reviving. She starred in the anniversary performance, documentary, and Tony Awards number celebrating the 15th anniversary of Spring Awakening, the show that brought her big break. Michele is also embarking on a small solo tour throughout the country this month. But why exactly do I call this a comeback? In June 2020, Michele received backlash over allegations of problematic behavior on set. After she Tweeted in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Glee castmate Samantha Ware called out her toxic on-set behavior. This sparked several diva-like accusations against Michele from co-workers. Michele later apologized and then focused attention on the birth of her first baby.
So, what happened next? On June 15th, Feldstein announced she would be stepping away from Funny Girl in mid-September, six months before her contract was supposed to end. Everyone — well, mostly myself and theater Twitter — started speculating that Lea Michele would take her place. A week later, Gawker dropped a bombshell article reporting that an inside source confirmed the replacement rumors. Adding to the chaos, Michele and Feldstein share an agent.
For about a month after the first chaotic Funny Girl news cycle, everything seemed relatively calm. That all changed last week when Beanie posted a new statement saying she would actually be departing the role on July 31 after “the production decided to take the show in a different direction.” Less than 24 hours later, Lea Michele was officially revealed as Broadway’s new Fanny Brice.
The casting announcement elicited mixed reactions. On one hand, cast members, including Jane Lynch, congratulated Michele on the role. While on the other, many are taking to social media to lament the decision, noting that Michele should be held accountable for her past behaviors. Samantha Ware, who initially accused Michele of bullying, tweeted that “silence is complicity” after the news broke. The strongest reaction, though, came from audience members as ticket prices skyrocketed. Funny Girl is now the number one event on ticket vendor SeatGeek’s platform with costs ranging from $600 to $2,500. Meanwhile, tickets cost an average of $69 for the remainder of Feldstein’s run.
Michele will begin her job on September 6th with current standby Julie Benko taking on the role until then and every Thursday after. Emmy and Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh will also replace Jane Lynch as Mrs. Brice (I know, Gleeks, it would have been a dream to have Rachel and Sue together on stage again).
And that’s what you missed on Glee.
Images: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for alice + olivia; Bruce Glikas/WireImage
The odds of being a famous superstar are like, one in a million. Trust me, my own parents would kindly remind me of this every day back in grade school when I would try to sing Hilary Duff singles for them in the car. But that being said, it’s crazy to imagine that any given family could be so blessed as to have TWO superstars among them. Like, I just need one succcessful person in my family to hook it up here and there when I want to go to a cool party or something, I don’t need to be a Cyrus or anything. Anyway, here’s a list of celebrities that are related, but that you probably didn’t know are related. Some of these pairings you may have had no clue about, while others you may just have never taken a minute to stop and make the connection. Either way, now you have a few fun facts to bring up to your coworkers and completely derail your next meeting with, so you’re welcome!
Lily Allen & Alfie Allen
I’m not the biggest music connoisseur. I only know Lily Allen from her famous single, “Smile” which was a classic high school jam. In a seemingly random pairing, she is apparently siblings with Aflie Allen, who you may better know as Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones. But wait! The plot thickens! And no, not because I’m about to tell you their father is actually Tim Allen, that’d be great. But no, it thickens because Lily Allen actually has a song called “Alfie”. Uh, are you guys confused? Because I am. I don’t know about you, and I’m not a famous singer-songerwriter, but personally, I wouldn’t write a song about my brother. It just seems kind of weird. But I guess I’m not here to judge, I’m just here to let you know about the fact that they are siblings.
Snoop Dogg & Brandy…& Ray J?
Uhm, yeah, like that’s a lot to digest. Not necessarily because I didn’t know Snoop Dogg and Brandy are cousins, but because I just found out that Brandy and Ray J are siblings. Fine, I recognize I’m probably behind the times with this one. Honestly, what’s probably even more shocking than that is the fact that I’m even mentioning the name Ray J in 2019. And now I just can’t help but wonder, what does Snoop think of Ray J and Kim’s sex tape??? Has he seen it? I mean, I feel like he’s had to have gotten high at some point and gotten curious. What does he think of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s marriage? I need someone to conduct a very intensive interview with Snoop Dogg about all things Kardashian related.
Al Roker & Lenny Kravitz
Okay, this one is silly. Yes, you read that correctly. Al Roker of, “that’s what’s happening around the country, here’s what’s happening in your neck of the woods” is related to rock ‘n’ roll legend Lenny Kravitz. Okay, so they’re not like directly related per se. It’s like, you have your cousins, then you have your first cousins, and then you have your second cousins…and then you have that situation when your grandfathers are cousins, which is the deal with these two. I’m not a family tree expert and I don’t know what that actually makes them. Any genealogists, feel free to chime in and educate me in the comments! Still, I think that my life has been enhanced by knowing Al Roker and Lenny Kravitz are distantly related, and not just because I can bring it up as a fun fact at parties. But, okay, I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a big part of it.
Jenny McCarthy & Melissa McCarthy
I feel like this one should be obvious but like, it’s not. Or maybe I’m just the idiot who never made this connection. But, regardless, Jenny and Melissa McCarthy are cousins. I wonder if Jenny McCarthy is jealous that her cousin is so much funnier than her??? Or if Melissa is embarrassed that her cousin is an anti-vaxxer? I feel like we all have that one crazy anti-vaxxer cousin, but at least mine isn’t famous and does not have the power to actually influence people. I bet McCarthy family reunions are fun.
Jonah Hill & Beanie Feldstein
This celeb relationship has recently come to light due to Beanie Feldstein’s star rising in Hollywood. They’re siblings, which is fitting because they’re both hysterical. And also it makes sense if you just looked at a picture of the two of them together, they literally look the same. For the uninformed, Beanie Feldstein was one of the stars of Booksmart, and she’s also Jonah’s younger sister. I would seriously buy tickets to the Feldstein/Hill family dinners, I don’t know about you guys.
I truly apologize if you read this list and thought, “wtf I already knew that.” But like, relax—and also, kudos to you on your wealth of obscure celebrity knowledge. In my defense, when I did research on this article one of the Google results for “celebs you didn’t know were related” was Beyoncé and Solange… so the bar was pretty low.
Images: GIPHY (5)
We’re always looking for the next best thing in entertainment, and honestly, we can be a little picky. Luckily, we already found the must-see comedy of the summer, and we’re bringing it to you before anyone else. Grab your ride or die, because we’ve got free movie tickets for you. The movie is called Booksmart,and you’re going to be obsessed with it.
Booksmart is a brand new comedy directed by one of our favorites, Olivia Wilde, because there’s nothing she can’t do. It’s a coming of age story for a new generation, showing real female friendships in a relatable and hilarious way. Booksmart is about two straight-laced high school best friends, who decide to finally make some bad choices. Obviously, bad choices lead to the best memories (not that we would know), and Booksmart is an unfiltered and uncensored look into high school bonds that can last a lifetime.
Basically, Booksmart is amazing, and you’re going to love it. The movie comes out Memorial Day Weekend, but we won’t make you wait that long. We’re giving you FREE access to advance screenings in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and all you have to do is reserve your tickets. What’s even better than seeing a movie before it actually comes out? Seeing it for free, duh. So get your tickets now, or risk missing out on the summer movie everyone will be talking about. Click the links below if you love getting free stuff as much as we do.
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