Lea Michele will not perform in Funny Girl at either of the September 10 performances due to “early signs and symptoms of COVID.” Michele's initial test results are inconclusive, but she is quarantining out of an abundance of caution. Julie Benko will assume the role of Fanny Brice in Michele's absence.
“I’m devastated to say that due to early signs and symptoms of COVID and an inconclusive test result—due to the production’s safety protocols I’m not allowed to perform for today’s shows,” Michele wrote in an Instagram story. “I will be testing again and will know more about tomorrow’s performance soon. Julie is going to crush it today as Fanny—as are all of our amazing understudies who have stepped up so incredibly this week while we battle a very intense COVID outbreak in our theatre.”
Michele's tenure as Fanny Brice began September 6, in a career full-circle moment. Michele is a self-proclaimed "Streisand Worshiper," and Funny Girl marks the first time she has returned to the Main Stem since the original Broadway production of Spring Awakening. While starring on six seasons of Glee, Michele, or rather Rachel Berry, sang the musical's "Don't Rain On My Parade," "You Are Woman, I Am Man," "People," "I'm the Greatest Star," and "Who Are You Now," and a season five plot line for the character saw her playing the role on Broadway.
Funny Girl, which premiered on Broadway in 1964, features a score by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill and a book by Isobel Lennart, newly adapted by Tony winner Harvey Fierstein for this revival. The original production propelled a young Streisand to international fame; she would reprise her stage performance in the 1968 film adaptation, winning an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in the process. The biomusical tracks real-life singer and comic Fanny Brice from her humble beginnings in Brooklyn, New York, to fame and fortune onstage in the Ziegfeld Follies and as a radio and screen performer.
The production is directed by Michael Mayer with choreography by Ellenore Scott, tap choreography by Ayodele Casel, music supervision and direction by Michael Rafter, scenic design by David Zinn, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Kevin Adams, sound design by Brian Ronan, and hair design by Campbell Young Associates. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Jason Thinger. The production also includes orchestrations by Chris Walker; dance, vocal, and incidental music arrangements by Alan Williams; additional arrangements by Carmel Dean and David Dabbon; music coordination by Seymour Red Press and Kimberlee Wertz; and vocal supervision by Liz Caplan.