Why Lea Michele Replacing Beanie Feldstein in Broadway’s Funny Girl is Problematic
Funny Girl: the hit Broadway musical about main character Fanny Brice, star, actress, and comedian, pursuing her relationship with gambler and entrepreneur Nick Arnstein. Over the multiple tours and revivals of this show, this musical has run on Broadway with various cast members, always leaving the fans wanting more. Its most recent rendition is Broadway’s revival of Funny Girl, starring Beanie Feldstein as Fanny Brice. With her time on the show coming to an end, the fans have a lot to say.
Glee star Lea Michele will be replacing Feldstein. Rachel Berry, Michele’s character on the hit show, was always a mega-fan of Funny Girl, so it seems fitting she’s playing this role, right? Not necessarily. Many fans are not happy with this casting, not because of Michele’s talent but because of her character.
Back in mid-2020, many Glee co-stars, including Samatha Ware, were quick to call Michele out for the way they were treated on set. This came after George Floyd’s murder, and with the rise of BLM, so many black celebrities were breaking their silence on how poorly they had been treated. Ware says, “from day one, it was very evident that she didn’t like me, and Michele went to no lengths to try to hide this.”
Michele was also called out for the racist microaggressions she directed to other cast members. Dabier Snell, who appeared on an episode of Glee in 2014, went on to talk about how Michele wouldn’t let Snell “sit at the table with the other cast members because ‘[he] didn’t belong there.’”
After these reports, many fans were not happy with Michele as a person and didn’t shy away from commenting on this. These fans are not happy about Michele’s recent casting as Brice. A fan, StevenNYPHOTO, took to Twitter, saying, “Lea Michele after arriving on set of Broadway’s ‘Funny Girl’ to bully everyone on set like did on Glee,” posting a picture of a meme (a video of Euphoria’s Cassie Howard getting out of control) under the caption. Though ticket sales are surging with Michele cast as Brice, the decision has also brought backlash to the show. Will fans shy away from continuing to watch the musical? Will more fans watch the show since they are familiar with Michele?
Regardless, the Funny Girl showrunners will now face the negative effects of this decision. Michele joining this cast could create more problems for other cast members should she continue this type of behavior. Additionally, this casting choice speaks to a larger trend of Broadway allowing problematic people on their stages. This is not the first time actors/actresses have been allowed back on set after scandals, and we see this through many like Mel Gibson, Kevin Hart, and even Nick Cannon too.