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From Rachel Berry to Fanny Brice: Let’s Talk about Lea Michelle in Funny Girl on Broadway

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Manhattan chapter.

By Jocelyn Visnov

Lea Michele made her Funny Girl debut back in September as she took on the iconic role of Fanny Brice. 

Michele is most widely recognized for her portrayal of Rachel Berry on Glee, a fictional character whose dream role was to play Fanny Brice on the mainstage. As a “Gleek” and retired theater kid myself, choosing Michelle to play Fanny Brice was not only an incredible casting choice (pun intended) but also a genius marketing ploy. 

Michele has been an understandably controversial face in the past, with accusations of racist behavior towards co-stars of color while filming Glee. While such remarks are not to be dismissed, an article from The Hollywood Reporter indicates she may have made efforts to acknowledge and correct this behavior. 

Despite feelings about Michele as a person, if you separate the art from the artist, you have to admit that the girl can sing.

I was lucky enough to score tickets to witness Michelle take the stage at the August Wilson theater in late January. Be prepared for potential spoilers below!

As I mentioned above, Michele has some serious singing skills. Every song she sang and every note she belted was bold and beautiful. When she began “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” a go-to favorite of Rachel Berry, the audience let out a brief cheer before going dead silent to hear her perform the song in real time. 

In addition, Michele’s old-timey Brooklyn New York accent was spot on. In addition, her purposely off-beat dancing added to the character. Michele’s portrayal of Fanny Brice created a character that was quirky, stubborn, sweet and indeed funny

Now, let’s talk about the rest of the cast, all of which oozed talent as well. 

Personally, I believe Jared Grimes, the actor who portrayed Eddie Ryan, was a standout. After the opening number, the audience is introduced to Eddie as he performs a tap number completely solo. No gimmicks or games, just Grimes tippety-tapping away on stage, showing off some serious hoofing skills. 

Another notably hilarious character was Fanny’s mother, Mrs. Brice, portrayed by Tovah Feldshuh. This character had some truly witty one-liners and excellent physical comedy.

Personally, I found myself very engaged with the show. I could feel Fanny’s excitement, angst, and frustration as the narrative continued. 

There was a definite energy between the audience in the theater and the actors on stage. I could feel the characters From the second Michele appeared center stage to the standing ovation during curtain call, actors were thriving off the energy from the audience. 
According to broadway blogs, Michele will be saying “Hello, gorgeous” as Fanny Brice on Broadway through the summer of 2023. Check out StubHub or NYTIX for ways to potentially score tickets to this spectacular show at a discounted price.

Jocelyn Visnov

Manhattan '24

Jocelyn is a communication major studying journalism and advertising at Manhattan College. She's the Editor-in-Chief for The Quadrangle Newspaper and previously served as a Creative Director and Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Manhattan. Jocelyn aspires to pursue a career in advertising with a special interest in creative direction and campaigns. She is a passionate writer who is always on the go, but never without an iced coffee in hand!