‘Funny Girl’ Producers Weren’t Blindsided by Beanie Feldstein’s Early Exit

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Funny Girl” producers are attesting they knew about Beanie Feldstein’s earlier-than-expected exit from the Broadway musical.

Amid the whirlwind drama over the actor’s abrupt departure — and Lea Michele’s replacement as Fanny Brice — rumors began to circulate that Feldstein caught the show’s production team by surprise when she announced on social media that her final curtain call would be on July 31. She was initially slated to stay until Sept. 25, but she changed those plans after producers “decided to take the show in a different direction.”

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Now, representatives for “Funny Girl” are insisting that Feldstein’s mid-summer farewell had been jointly arranged with the revival’s producers, who “support” her decision.

“The producers of ‘Funny Girl’ were not blindsided by Beanie’s social post,” representatives for the show and Feldstein said in a statement that was first obtained by People. “The producers decided to take the show in a different direction and end Beanie’s contract on Sept. 25, six months earlier than anticipated. A month after that decision, Beanie decided it was best for her to leave on July 31. The producers were aware of and in support of her decision. The producers and Beanie worked on this together professionally, respectfully and graciously.”

Michele, who was long-rumored to be taking over for Feldstein, will assume the role of Fanny Brice on Sept. 6. In the interim, the show’s understudy Julie Benko will perform the title role from Aug. 2 through Sept. 4 and every Thursday beginning on Sept. 8. Along with Feldstein’s departure, Jane Lynch, who plays Fanny’s mother Mrs. Brice, is also leaving the production earlier than expected and will be replaced by Tovah Feldshuh (“Yentl”) starting on Sept. 6.

The casting shakeup is intended to revive the show’s lackluster ticket sales. The revival of “Funny Girl” opened on April 24 at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre and generated plenty of attention despite the mostly negative reviews. (Variety, for one, called the production “uninspired.”) However, “Funny Girl” quickly began to struggle at the box office, which is bad news for a musical of its size and scope. The hope, among producers, is that a marquee name like Michele can give the show a chance of making money.

Already, the price of admission has skyrocketed in the wake of news that Michele is embodying the incandescent comic and chanteuse Fanny Brice. It’s been the No. 1 trending event on SeatGeek, the show’s official online ticket platform, where tickets are selling for $570 (on the low end) to $2,500 (on the pricier side). Tickets in July and August start at $69 and most weekday performances cost $49. However, the average price of admission for “Funny Girl” is slightly higher at $101.84, per the Broadway League.

“Funny Girl” follows Brice on her improbable rise to fame and her stormy relationship with gambler Nicky Arnstein. The production first opened on Broadway in 1964, starring Streisand as Brice, and was nominated for eight Tonys, including best musical. The revival, which came six decades after the original, only scored one Tony nomination for Jared Grimes’ take on Eddie Ryan, a tap-dance phenom who befriends Brice. The lack of Tonys love did not help the show’s box office fortunes.

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