EXCLUSIVE: Lea Michele will be making her public debut as Fanny Brice in Broadway’s Funny Girl tonight, but don’t expect reviews tomorrow. A production spokesperson tells Deadline exclusively that while critics will be accommodated who want to review – or, rather, re-review – the musical with its new star, the accommodations won’t be made for a few weeks.
According to the spokesperson, producers will wait to open the show to reviewers once the full company, including Michele and Tovah Feldshuh as Mrs. Brice, have had a “brief time to perform together.” While Michele and Feldshuh begin tonight, some of the other principal actors remain on vacation, and the full company is not in place due to some current cases of Covid.
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The timeline for critics reviews will be firmed up over the next couple weeks, with reviewers likely to be accommodated for performances toward the end of September.
Critics en masse are infrequently invited to re-review Broadway productions with or without replacement casts, though individual requests for invitations are considered.
With Michele, though, interest among critics and the public is exceedingly high for any number of reasons – the controversies that surrounded the production with the early departure of original star Beanie Feldstein, not to mention Feldstein’s lukewarm reviews and lack of a Tony nomination. Critics and audiences are no doubt curious as to whether the revival can generate the plaudits that had all but evaporated for the musical in recent weeks, not to mention box office success.
Of course, there’s nothing from stopping eager critics from purchasing a ticket before official accommodations are made, but reviewers are generally amenable to experiencing a reviewed performance under best circumstances possible, with full casts and companies ready, able and fully rehearsed to turn in optimal efforts.
In addition to the new company members, some minor adjustments reportedly have been made to the production, including the new inclusion of the Fanny Brice song “I’d Rather Be Blue Over You” that was performed by Barbra Streisand in the film version but was not until now part of the current stage production.
In a sense, Michele is being given a “preview” period that usually only the original casts receive. Only difference is, there will be no official new opening night for the replacement cast, which includes not only Michele but Feldshuh taking over from Jane Lynch. A second opening night party is not planned, nor will there be red carpet arrivals tonight for Michele’s first performance. The official opening date for this Funny Girl revival is and will remain April 24, 2022.
Also, the production has released first-look photos of Michele in the role of Fanny. See them in full below.
Mary Ellen Matthews
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