It would appear that Fanny Brice’s plea to the weather gods went unheard.
The former “Glee” actress Lea Michele finally made her Broadway debut in the “Funny Girl” revival on a grey and rainy Tuesday in New York City, but that didn’t dampen her spirits. Audience members at the August Wilson Theatre rose to their feet as soon as Michele stepped onto the stage, making it difficult to hear the show’s infamous opening line, “Hello, gorgeous,” before she even started singing. In total, she would receive six standing ovations, the last of which would send rafter vibrations across the auditorium.
Michele has been lobbying (unofficially) for years to be able to play Fanny Brice, the dazzling comic and chanteuse, on stage. Her character, Rachel Berry, became famous on “Glee” for her unabashed love of the musical and her repeated performances of its most famous songs, such as “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “I’m the Greatest Star,” and “People,” during the show’s six seasons. Similar to a public audition tape.
Stars and regular people alike attended in large numbers. There was a full house of Gleeks, but also Michele’s best friend and former “Spring Awakening” co-star Jonathan Groff (who rocked back and forth rhythmically whenever the actress was on stage, sobbing at various points, and jumping up to lead each ovation), her old “Glee” boss Ryan Murphy, Zachary Quinto, Drew Barrymore, Harvey Fierstein (fresh off delivering yet another polish on the show’s sometimes creaky book), and producer Mark The crowd was rooting for Michele, and she probably won’t find another audience as anxious to see her succeed.
Julianna DeAngelis, who is 24, asserts, “We’re Gleeks first, people second.” To paraphrase, “Don’t Rain on my Parade” by Lea Michele was a fixture in my formative years. Fiona Castro and her friend spent $250 to see the revival of “Funny Girl,” according to Fiona.
For sure, “we would have spent more,” Castro, 24, affirmed. When you consider all that has happened during the revival, this is truly a historic time.
And there have been several “Funny Girl”-related news stories throughout the past year. When the show returned to Broadway after nearly six decades, it was not Michele but “Booksmart” actor Beanie Feldstein who played the Ziegfeld’s Follies star who falls in love with the wrong man. Yet Feldstein’s performance was met with poor reviews, little Tonys love, and tough comparisons to Barbra Streisand’s career-making performance. In response to the scathing reviews, there were whispers that Michele was being considered for the lead role. Feldstein quit “Funny Girl” two months early after Michele’s casting was announced, saying that the producer wanted to “carry the program differently.”
Michele’s triumphant comeback to Broadway has not been met without its critics. After former “Glee” cast member Samantha Marie Ware accused Michele of “traumatic microaggressions” that created a toxic set environment, Michele mostly withdrew from public view in 2020. The next day, Michele said she was sorry for her “behavior and for any sorrow which I have caused.”
On Tuesday, though, for the first time in weeks, most of the drama surrounding the musical occurred on stage.
Fanny’s hot beau Nicky Arnstein, played by Ramin Karimloo, has avoided the drama occurring offstage.
He told Variety before opening night, “From what I’m gathering, because I didn’t grow up with ‘Funny Girl,’ this show has influenced a lot of people, and it’s something that’s generally on their mind for a long time.” “I know nothing about ‘Glee.’ Listening to Leasing for the first time was a life-changing experience because I had never heard of her before. Michele’s assessment of Brice was lauded by the latter, who said of Michele, “she wants to dig into the relationship,” and “it’s successful.”
He accurately predicted that one particular song would get the crowd on its feet. She, he claims, “blows the roof off” with “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” which she has presumably sung on the show that everyone is talking about. “The way she sings makes me dance.”
Michele’s singing and the lively atmosphere left the audience raving throughout the intermission. Fans rushed to the stage entrance after the show ended to get one last look at Michele, who had accepted a bunch of white roses from the crowd and waved tearfully as the curtain fell. At that event, Michele signed posters and Playbills for her many fans.
The evening was fantastic, said Marlene Sabbagh, a 21-year-old theatergoer.
Sabbagh claimed, “I’ve been coming to the theatre my whole life, and that was the best experience I’ve ever had.” That was an amazing crowd. The vibes were incredible. When I was a kid, I was never into Justin Bieber. Hello, everyone, and welcome to my Justin Bieber concert.