Lea Michele Receives 4 Standing Ovations Before Intermission at Her First Performance of Funny Girl

Lea Michele as "Fanny Brice" in "Funny Girl" on Broadway
Lea Michele as "Fanny Brice" in "Funny Girl" on Broadway
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Bruce Glikas/WireImage

Lea Michele received a standing ovation Tuesday night — before she even said a word — at her highly-anticipated first performance in Broadway's Funny Girl.

The actress, 36, made her triumphant return to the boards after a 13-year absence, stepping into the role of Fanny Brice in the musical revival, now playing New York City's August Wilson Theatre.

Cheering her on was an electric crowd of friends and fans alike — from her best friend Jonathan Groff, to their fellow Spring Awakening costars John Gallagher Jr. and Gideon Glick. Drew Barrymore was also in attendance, as was Zachary Quinto, Lee Pace, Tony winner Harvey Fierstein, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and prolific producer Ryan Murphy, who worked with Michele in Glee and Scream Queens.

In fact, the crowd went so wild for Michele, she received a total of four standing ovations before the end of Act 1, including one after the show's signature tune, "Don't Rain on My Parade." Another two followed in the show's second act.

RELATED: Broadway's 'Funny Girl' Shares Teaser Video of Lea Michele as Fanny Brice: 'The Role of a Lifetime'

At intermission, the aisles were packed with audiences members gushing about Michele's vocals, her comedic timing, and the all-around excitement in the house. "I haven't had a night like this in the theater in years," Fierstein, who punched up the musical's book, told a friend as he made his way back to his seat.

For more on Lea Michele, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Michele — and Tovah Feldshuh, who was also debuting in the production on Tuesday, as Fanny's mother — were showered with praise again during the musical's curtain call, each getting a bouquet of roses from their company members. Taking one another's hands, the two actresses shared a group bow before Michele stepped center stage on her own. She made eye contact with a sobbing Groff in the audience, pointing at him and sending a smile his way before scurrying off backstage.

"She's the greatest star alright," one fan was overheard saying as they left the theater, a nod to one of Funny Girl's beloved tunes. "I'm going to need to come back this Friday and see it again."

Ahead of her first performance, the actress told PEOPLE that she was excited to have some of her friends and family supporting her in the crowd.

RELATED: Lea Michele Says She Wrote Beanie Feldstein After Seeing Her in 'Funny Girl' : 'She Was Hilarious'

ea Michele as "Fanny Brice" and Tovah Feldshuh as "Mrs. Brice" take their first curtain call in "Funny Girl" on Broadway at The August Wilson Theatre on September 6, 2022 in New York City.
ea Michele as "Fanny Brice" and Tovah Feldshuh as "Mrs. Brice" take their first curtain call in "Funny Girl" on Broadway at The August Wilson Theatre on September 6, 2022 in New York City.

Bruce Glikas/WireImage

"I know Jon [Groff] and John [Gallagher Jr.] are going to be there," she said. "So I have all of my people. It's wonderful."

The actress said that her Spring Awakening group chat was filled with nothing but well wishes upon the news that she'd be stepping into the revival following original star Beanie Feldstein's exit in July.

"Everyone is so incredibly supportive," she said of her Spring Awakening cast members. "I mean, literally, it's just a constant support for all of us."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

When Michele found out the news that she had been cast in the role originated by Barbra Streisand in 1964, she said that she and Groff celebrated with a bottle of champagne.

"We just sat in the living room and toasted to that. But I also had a weekend where we went away together and we celebrated. So we've had these mini little celebrations," she recalled.

However, it was former Spring Awakening cast member Gideon Glick who shared in a particularly special moment with the former Glee star.

(l to r): Lea Michele (Fanny Brice), Tovah Feldshuh (Mrs. Brice) in rehearsals for Funny Girl.
(l to r): Lea Michele (Fanny Brice), Tovah Feldshuh (Mrs. Brice) in rehearsals for Funny Girl.

Jenny Anderson, 2022

RELATED: Lea Michele Says 'Pitting Women Against Each Other' Is 'Sad' Following Her 'Funny Girl' Casting

"I got the call from my agents that I got the part. I had no idea. I was literally sitting out at Bubby's with my child [Ever, 2], feeding him buttered pasta and broccoli. And I get a call from my agents and they said, 'You are going to be Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.' And as I looked up, I start hysterically crying and I'm like, oh my God. And I looked up, and I saw Gideon Glick. And he was like, 'Hi,' " she explained.

"And he saw me crying. People had been asking me [about the role], but I didn't really know what was going to happen," she continued. "He was like, 'Oh my God, did you just get the part?' And I was nodding. So he took a picture of me on the street hysterically crying, getting the part of Fanny Brice.

"Gideon used to be my old roommate. And he was actually there with me when I got the call that I would be in Les Miz as well. So it was just a very full-circle moment for me."

The musical, which features the Jule Styne and Bob Merrill classics "People," "I'm the Greatest Star" and "Don't Rain on My Parade," features tap numbers by Ayodele Casel and choreography by Ellenore Scott, a revised script by Tony Award winner Fierstein and over 150 costumes designed by Tony-winning designer Susan Hilferty.

For more information, visit FunnyGirlonBroadway.com.