Hello, ticket sales!
Looking to be among the first to hear Lea Michele’s dulcet tones take on the legend of Fanny Brice? Not to rain on your parade, but a seat to the “Glee” alum’s opening night in Broadway’s revival of “Funny Girl” could set you back anywhere from a few hundred bucks to a couple thousand big ones. The price of admission has skyrocketed in the wake of news that Michele is replacing Beanie Feldstein in the beloved musical.
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On Tuesday, Sept. 6, the night that Michele officially steps into the role, tickets on SeatGeek are selling for $570 on the low end (the site classifies this as an “amazing deal”) to $2,250 (this, somehow, is called a “moderate price”). The most expensive tickets are currently running at $2,500 — not including the $500 in fees. (SeatGeek calls this an “okay deal”). It’s now the No. 1 trending event on the ticket platform’s website. Few shows today outside of “Hamilton,” which sold tickets above $1,100 in its heyday, have experienced this kind of surge.
According to SeatGeek, the show’s official online ticket seller, admission 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.
SeatGeek and “Funny Girl” producers did not respond to Variety’s request for comment.
Prior to Michele’s casting, “Funny Girl’s” box office fortunes were lagging as it headed into the dog days of summer. The show filled the August Wilson Theater to just 74.84% capacity in July, a drop from earlier in the summer when the show was well-stocked at 97.8% capacity. By comparison, popular shows like the revival of “Company” is presently selling at 84.1% capacity, “Dear Evan Hansen” is regularly filled to 90% capacity, “Hamilton” is brimming at 100% capacity and recent Tony-winner for best musical, “A Strange Loop,” is comfortably crowded at 99.1% capacity.
The current production of “Funny Girl,” which follows Fanny Brice on her improbable rise to fame and her stormy relationship with gambler Nick Arnstein, opened to strong ticket sales despite mostly negative reviews. Variety, for one, called the revival “uninspired.” The New York Times admitted that Barbra Streisand, who became synonymous with the role early in her career, left some impossible shoes to fill and wrote of Feldstein, “You root for her to raise the roof, but she only bumps against it a little.”
Since performances began in April, the show grossed an average of $1.2 million per week, according to the Broadway League. But weekly revenues have slumped recently to $743,213. Interest started to decline after “Funny Girl” was blanked at the Tony Awards in June, receiving only a single nomination for featured actor Jared Grimes, who plays tap-dance phenom Eddie Ryan. That’s bad news as the conventional wisdom is that a musical of “Funny Girl’s” size and scope has to generate roughly $1 million weekly to have a chance of making money.
Feldstein announced last weekend she would be leaving the show on July 31, roughly two months before she was expected to exit the production. She attributed her early departure to a decision by the production “to take the show in a different direction.”
“Playing Fanny Brice on Broadway has been a lifelong dream of mine, and doing so for the last few months has been a great joy and true honor,” Feldstein wrote on Instagram. “Once the production decided to take the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away sooner than anticipated.”
The next day, the production confirmed the much-speculated news that Michele, a long-time Streisand and “Funny Girl” enthusiast, would take over as the indomitable Jewish comic and chanteuse Fanny Brice. It’s no secret that Michele has long desired to play the iconic character, which propelled Streisand to stardom in the ’60s.
On the long-running TV series “Glee,” the musical served as a key plot point for Michele’s character Rachel Berry, who memorably sang “Don’t Rain on My Parade” — and many other songs from the show — before she eventually starred in the fictional Broadway revival of “Funny Girl.” In a 2017 appearance on “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen,” Michele admitted she wanted to revive “Funny Girl” but she felt it was a “little soon” because she performed everything from “People” to “My Man” on “Glee.” Michele’s name even became a trending topic on Twitter after Feldstein was cast in the revival nearly a year ago.
Michele wrote on Instagram that “a dream come true is an understatement.”
The actor made her Broadway debut at age 8 as Young Cosette in “Les Misérables” and returned to the stage in her early 20s for “Spring Awakening.” She largely stepped back from the spotlight in 2020 after former “Glee” co-star Samantha Marie Ware accused Michele of “traumatic microaggressions” that fostered a toxic set. Michele later apologized for her “behavior and for any pain which I have caused.”
Fellow “Glee” alum Jane Lynch, who plays Fanny’s mother, is also leaving the production earlier than expected and will exit the show on Sept. 4. She will be replaced by four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh (“Yentl”) starting on Sept. 6.
Before Michele slips into Fanny’s leopard wrap coat and matching cloche hat, the show’s understudy Julie Benko will perform the title role from Aug. 2 through Sept. 4 and every Thursday beginning on Sept. 8.
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