Funny Girl on Broadway - Lea Michele and Tovah Feldshuh

Lea Michele in Funny Girl Reviews – August Wilson Theatre, Broadway

A reviews round-up of Funny Girl on Broadway, reopening with Lea Michele and Tovah Feldshuh.

Former Glee star Lea Michele opened last night, 6 September 2022, in Funny Girl on Broadway, at the August Wilson Theatre.

By all accounts she was a hit with that opening audience, getting a number of standing ovations and wowing the crowd; as was veteran Broadway actress Tovah Feldshuh, who plays her mother.

The show features some of the most iconic songs in theatre history including “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” “I’m the Greatest Star,” and “People,” and is directed by Michael Mayer. Ramin Karimloo plays Nick Arnstein.

Lea Michelle replaces Bernie Feldstein, who opened the show in April and left in July.

Critics are slowly being invited to re-review the show, once all of the cast are back from holidays and Lea and Tovah have settled in. But that hasn’t stopped some critics buying tickets and reviewing early, including the New York Post.

The show’s official opening night date remains 24 April 2022.

More reviews to follow.

We will add reviews to this article as they come in, and re-post this article. Article originally posted 7 September 2022.

Funny Girl on Broadway

New York Post

"Lea Michele lifts Broadway show out of the guttah"

"Michele is ready to go. She’s revved up and performs like she’s been belting “Don’t Rain On My Parade” in the shower every day for 10 years. Hell, she probably has! Together with the titanic Feldshuh, the “Glee” star lifts this wanting production into something much more palatable than it was back in the spring. (Many of the existing issues remain, however.) This time, I actually enjoyed it."

"... the funniest girl at the August Wilson Theatre isn’t the title character, but the great Feldshuh. In a role that’s harder to make stand out than a beige accent wall, the veteran actress has the crowd in stitches with almost every line."

Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
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The Washington Post

"Lea Michele is just the gleeful diva this ‘Funny Girl’ needed"

"The actress is captivatingly center stage in the revival of the 1964 musical at the August Wilson Theatre"

"When Lea Michele launches missile-like into “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” she doesn’t just bring down the house. She brings down the whole darn block."

"The overeager audience starts cheering before Michele can get out even the first notes of her songs, and that’s a shame. Because it’s thrilling to hear her scale each of these signature challenges from start to finish. When she’s out there onstage, framed in azure light and singing with deep passion and total commitment, she really is a rhapsody in blue."

Peter Marks, The Washington Post
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The New York Times

"In Lea Michele, ‘Funny Girl’ Has Finally Found Its Fanny"

"The “Glee” star is stupendous in the role Barbra Streisand made famous, turning the 1964 musical into something better than we know it to be."

"Lea Michele, who took over the role on Sept. 6, turns out to be that stupendous Fanny. Yes, she even lights up like a light. Both vulnerable and invulnerable, kooky and ardent, she makes the show worth watching again."

"She can’t make it good, though. Michael Mayer’s production is still garish and pushy, pandering for audience overreaction... But at least “Funny Girl” now has a missile: a performer who from her first words (“Hello, Gorgeous”) shoots straight to her target and hits it."

Jesse Green, The New York Times
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"In Funny Girl, Lea Michele Does Exactly What You Thought She Could"

"... once she actually starts to sing, it’s somehow better than expected. Her voice opens up, crisp and expansive, and it runs out of her with remarkable combination of ease and power, like she casually split an atom in the back of her throat"

"When Feldstein opened the show, she could not handle the songs, and as Helen Shaw pointed out, the “songs are the whole caboodle.” In Michele’s case, this works to her advantage. The way that the show’s written, Fanny’s voice is the metonym for her stardom, so as long as you really believe she’s got the magic, you don’t necessarily need to buy her comedic skills, or really any other aspect of her character..."

Jackson McHenry, Vulture
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Los Angeles Times

"I was skeptical of Lea Michele. Then I saw her deliver a tour de force in ‘Funny Girl’"

"Michele’s performance in “Funny Girl” is one of the top five musical theater performances I’ve seen in my lifetime. The last time I was this overcome at a curtain call was after Patti LuPone turned “Rose’s Turn” into a gloriously harrowing nervous breakdown in the 2008 Broadway revival of “Gypsy.”"

"... it’s the somber vulnerability she brings to “People” that makes the deepest impression. Michele’s Fanny isn’t singing this first act number to win the adulation of an audience. She has just proven to everyone that she’s a Ziegfeld star. She’s directing these lyrics to Nicky Arnstein (Ramin Karimloo), confiding them to him, baring the secret wishes of her heart."

"I wasn’t particularly excited by the prospect of sitting through this revival again. But I left understanding why tickets are going for a king’s ransom. Lea Michele is delivering a tour de force for the ages."

Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times
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"A Star Is Reborn With Lea Michele Headlining Broadway Musical"

"Take two, and not a moment too soon. Lea Michele steps into one of Broadway’s most iconic roles, which in her mind — or at least the mind of Rachel Berry, the character she played in TV’s “Glee” — she was destined to play. And dammit, she’s right. Not that suddenly this otherwise uninspired and underproduced revival of “Funny Girl” is transformed into a revelatory classic. Instead Michele gives it what the revival previously lacked: charisma, astonishing vocals and assuredness — not to mention a killer fan base."

"Her well-seasoned acting chops (she’s been on Broadway stages since she was 9) allows her to calibrate Fanny’s mix of raw ambition, neediness, nerve and vulnerability. Some of Fanny’s insecurities, beneath her bravado, are rooted in her issues of class, education and looks. Michele is clearly a beauty that a period wig can’t hide, but we nevertheless sign on to the delusion."

"Lending solid support is another welcome addition, Tovah Feldshuh, who infuses the role of Fanny’s mother with authenticity, humor and kick"

"What transcends it all is the presence of a Fanny who can deliver the musical, emotional and comedic goods — and with a backstage story to boot. With Streisand, it was that of a star being born. With Michelle, it’s one being reborn."

Frank Rizzo, Variety
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Chicago Tribune

"Lea Michele rides waves of love in Broadway’s ‘Funny Girl’"

"Come Tony Awards time next spring, the committee is going to have an issue. Lea Michele’s show-stopping lead performance in director Michael Mayer’s revival of “Funny Girl” will be a formidable competitor for best lead performance by an actress in a musical. But since she’s technically (and famously) a replacement for Beanie Feldstein in that same role, she won’t be eligible."

"Michele can sing this role (forever associated with Barbra Streisand, of course), with polished, bravura aplomb. Jule Styne’s notes rest easy in her instrument and she finds all kinds of honest, kinetic variance."

"... what will impress the audience the most will be Michele’s acting chops. She’s very touching as her Fanny gets trapped in the net with that same handsome loser and you get the sense, as a young star who has been through the wringers of Twitter and its snap-judgement squeeze, that Michele now knows full well how fame and fortune ain’t ever all fun, not least because men usually can’t easily handle successful women."

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
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The Guardian

"Dazzling Lea Michele delivers in Funny Girl"

"After months of rumors and gossip, the controversial star takes the reins from Beanie Feldstein and stars in the role hallowed by Barbra Streisand"

"Michele debuted in early September to seven standing ovations, and a press review performance in October confirmed the hype: she is that good. For better or worse, considering her reputation for allegedly being a bully on the set of Glee, it’s Michele’s show."

"Michele’s achievement is clearest in the full-belt, triumphant diva moments Feldstein’s tenure could not deliver – standing center stage, arms rising as her emphatic voice gilded the rafters, Michele took full advantage of the numerous opportunities to put an exclamation point on her command of the role. Whether for the drama or from the inherent thrill in seeing someone lunge for the top and grasp it, the audience ate it up; half of Michele’s capstone notes were nearly drowned out by cheers."

"Singing aside – and, as Fanny successfully makes her case for fame in a song called I’m The Greatest Star, singing is most of the point – Michele also handily carried the show’s vaudevillian humor and Fanny’s transformation from chorus line wannabe to young bride to seasoned star with a combustible marriage"

Adrian Horton, The Guardian
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📷 Main photo: Funny Girl on Broadway - Lea Michele and Tovah Feldshuh, 6 September 2022. Photo courtesy of Funny Girl / Instagram

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