See Lea Michele's Debut in 'Funny Girl' Role in New Video

Producers have released the first look at Lea Michele rehearsing as Fanny Brice for the Broadway production of Funny Girl. Michele got the part when Beanie Feldstein abruptly announced she would be leaving the musical at the end of July amid rumors that the Glee alum had already been recruited to replace her. Barbra Streisand made the role famous on Broadway and in film.

Jane Lynch, who had played "Mrs. Brice," also announced she would leave the show early. She wished her former Glee co-star and "Fanny" standby Julie Benko all the best."I offer a special thanks to my current scene partner Julie Benko and will be back to see my friend Lea Michele light up the lights," Lynch wrote.

The saga started after Beanie Feldstein was cast as Fanny Brice when the show opened in late April. The show received mixed to negative reviews. As far as Michele was concerned, she expressed a desire to play Fanny during and outside of Glee. Before there was an official announcement of Feldstein's replacement after she announced her departure, Gawker published a piece on June 30 announcing that Michele would succeed her. It was confirmed later by the producers.

The story is complicated by reports of Michele's unprofessional on-set conduct by some of her Glee co-stars, most notably Samantha Ware, who stated Michele's "traumatic microaggressions" left her questioning her entire career. She reportedly said upon hearing Michele would be cast in Funny Girl, "Yes, Broadway upholds whiteness. Yes, Hollywood does the same."

The Daily Beast published a story and commentary in July from a single anonymous "senior show source" about what transpired behind the scenes of the musical. According to the gossip, Feldstein and Michele share a theater agent, and people were overly concerned with Feldstein's feelings, and they handled her with kid gloves to everyone's detriment. The reports appeared to center around who was to blame for not replacing Feldstein sooner, suggesting that the entire fault rested with her casting.

The New York Times reviewer Jesse Green described Feldstein as "good," rather than "stupendous," as the role demands. "You can't blame Feldstein for the show's problems; that would be like blaming the clown for the elephants," he added. Among Green's criticisms were the show's book, the staging, and the sets. 

According to Time Out New York's Adam Feldman, Feldstein could not carry the role, but the rest of the performances were poor, the direction weak, and the book was not engaging. According to the consensus, a performer such as Feldstein had to be Barbra Streisand to pull off the part of Fanny, and she wasn't.

However, this does not imply that Michele can also reach those heights. Although she has the singing voice that Feldstein lacks and can perform Funny Girl songs live, the role also requires comedic skills and a playful charm that Feldstein possessed, which Michele may lack.

Funny Girl, which received no Tony Awards, experienced a significant drop in ticket sales just before the Michele announcement. Michele will take over on September 6, with Tovah Feldshuh replacing Lynch.