Jane Lynch Explains Why She Won't Be in "Funny Girl" With Lea Michele

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Actors Lea Michele (L) and Jane Lynch in 2016.  (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for ELLE)
Actors Lea Michele (L) and Jane Lynch in 2016. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for ELLE)

Lea Michele is officially replacing Beanie Feldstein as the lead, Fanny Brice, in the ongoing Broadway revival of "Funny Girl." The production announced the news on Twitter on July 11, writing, "Emmy Award-nominee Lea Michele and Tony Award-nominee Tovah Feldshuh join #FUNNYGIRL beginning September 6!" Feldshuh will be replacing Jane Lynch, who worked with Michele on "Glee." Julie Benko will fill in as the lead between July 31 and Sept. 4.

On July 12, Lynch reacted to news of Michele joining the production in an interview with Deadline. "She's just going to take this show and make it her own. I'm so glad she's getting the opportunity in real life to do the show and not just on 'Glee,'" Lynch said.

Lynch also told Deadline there was no secret reason she and Michele won't appear together. She said, "You know, it was just a really strong idea to have Feldshuh and Lea premiere together. That's the only reason [we won't appear together]. I adore her."

Feldstein announced on July 10 that she would be leaving "Funny Girl" earlier than originally planned. In a statement she shared on Instagram, the actor revealed her last day would be July 31, almost two months earlier than her and Lynch's originally announced last date, Sept. 25.

The actor wrote on Instagram, "Playing Fanny Brice on Broadway has been a lifelong dream of mine, and doing so for the last few months has been a great joy and a true honor. Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than anticipated."

She continued, "I will never forget this experience and from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank very single person who came to the August Wilson for the love and support you have shown me and our amazing cast and crew. The people I have had the great joy of bringing 'Funny Girl' to life with every night, both on and off the stage, are all remarkably talented and exceptional humans and I hope you continue to join them on Henry Street after I depart on July 31st."

"Funny Girl" marks Michele's return to Broadway. She last appeared on the Great White Way in the original production of "Spring Awakening" from 2006 to 2008. In June 2020, Michele was accused of bullying and racism by many of her former "Glee" colleagues, and she issued an apology on Instagram.

This "Funny Girl" revival is the first Broadway iteration of the show since the original production was staged in 1964, starring Barbra Streisand in what would become her signature role. Streisand also starred in the hit 1968 film adaptation. The musical is loosely based on the life of actor and comedian Brice and her complicated marriage to entrepreneur and gambler Nick Arnstein. Its most famous song is "Don't Rain on My Parade," which Michele covered in the first season of "Glee."

Meanwhile, Feldstein, who also starred in the 2017 revival of "Hello, Dolly!," hasn't announced what's next for her. In June, she got engaged to her girlfriend, Bonnie Chance Roberts.