Hey, Mr. Ziegfeld, here she is...
Forget guys in ruffled shirts, we've got something even more exciting — our first glimpse at Lea Michele as Funny Girl's new Fanny Brice. We here at EW are the "luckiest people in the world" to share an exclusive first look at the former Glee star in costume as Brice, as well as a sneak peek at the new artwork for the show.
"I was speaking with Harvey Fierstein, whom I adore about my first performance on Tuesday," Michele said in an exclusive statement to EW. "He asked how I was feeling about this big night coming up. I told him I'm feeling 'over the moon and so nervous at the exact same time.' He told me 'that's called being alive and to live in that feeling.' It was the perfect advice."
"This is such a dream come true for me," she added, "And I cannot wait to take the stage on Tuesday as Fanny Brice on Broadway."
Mary Ellen Matthews Lea Michele as Fanny Brice in 'Funny Girl'
Michele is glamorous as Brice in one of the character's signature hat and coat ensembles, sporting a brunette wig in the style of the era. The new artwork riffs on the current design for the show, replacing the big yellow bow on Brice's head with a yellow floral hat.
The production previously shared a first look at Michele in rehearsal for the role, dancing and working with her costars.
Her run as Fanny Brice begins Sept. 6 at the August Wilson Theater, and Michele is currently slated to stay with the show through 2023 (standby Julie Benko, who took over as Brice for the month of August, will continue to star in the show on Thursday evenings).
The revival marks Funny Girl's first return to Broadway since its original debut in 1964, which famously starred Barbra Streisand in the lead role. The musical follows Fanny, from her early days dreaming of making it as a performer to her success as a member of Florenz Ziegfeld's company — all while tracking her complicated romance with gambler Nick Arnstein (Ramin Karimloo).
Michele takes over the role following Beanie Feldstein and Benko, and she'll be joined by Tovah Feldshuh (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) as Fanny's mother, Rose, replacing Michele's Glee costarJane Lynch. This production also reunites Michele with her Spring Awakening director, Michael Mayer, who, alongside new book writer Harvey Fierstein, helped shepherd the revival to Broadway. Fittingly, Mayer first introduced Michele to Funny Girl, via the film adaptation, while working with her on Spring Awakening.
Mary Ellen Matthews
In some ways, it feels as if Michele has been preparing for the role of Brice for most of her life. The Broadway star impressed time and again delivering songs from Funny Girl while starring on Glee.
Her character, Rachel Berry, was famously obsessed with Barbra Streisand and the legend's take on Brice, singing "Don't Rain on My Parade," "Who Are You Now," "My Man," and "People" during her time on Glee.
Michele became nearly as synonymous as Streisand with "Don't Rain on My Parade," singing it on the Glee live tour and even the Tony Awards. Indeed, in the final season of Glee, in a moment that is now life imitating art (or vice versa), Michele's Rachel landed her dream role as Fanny Brice in a Broadway revival of Funny Girl.
For a time, it seemed Glee creator Ryan Murphy might make that a reality, acquiring the rights to the production with Michele presumed to be his top choice to star. Still, Michele felt mixed emotions at the prospect then. "I didn't feel like there was anything new that I could bring," she recently told the New York Times, referring to how much she had already plumbed the show's score on television.
Now, she told the Times, "I feel more ready than I ever have before, both personally and professionally."
It's not quite the proclamation that she's the "greatest star," but beginning Sept. 6, the world will at last see Michele play Brice on a Broadway stage — with all her attendant ginger and jazz.