Controversial Television Star To Replace Beanie Feldstein

Booksmart star Beanie Feldstein is being replaced by a very controversial, semi-canceled star and people are not happy.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

Beanie Feldstein

Actor Beanie Feldstein is leaving the recent Broadway revival of Fanny Brice unexpectedly early. To the surprise of many (and not-surprise of others) Broadway star Lea Michele has been cast to replace her in the title role. Per Variety, Beanie Feldstein will be leaving the show on July 31, and Lea Michele will be assuming the role on September 6. Beanie Feldstein’s understudy Julie Benko will perform in the interim. There is a whole lot of backstory here, so we will get into it right away. 

Lea Michele

Fanny Brice is Beanie Feldstein’s second major Broadway production after debuting in Hello Dolly! in 2017. This production of Fanny Brice is the first Broadway revival of the show (which originally starred Barbra Streisand in 1964 and was nominated for eight Tony Awards), and needless to say, there were pretty high expectations set on both the show and Beanie Feldstein. The critical reviews of Beanie Feldstein’s performance were mostly lukewarm and she ended up missing a number of performances due to contracting Covid-19. On June 15, Beanie Feldstein announced that she would be leaving the production in September, much earlier than expected. Her Instagram post indicated that her co-star Jane Lynch (as Mrs. Brice) would also be leaving. Beanie Feldstein’s latest post implied (by saying that “the production had decided to take the show in a different direction”) that she was not leaving the show entirely voluntarily. 

Beanie Feldstein’s replacement in the role is Lea Michele, best known for starring in the hit musical television series Glee as Rachel Berry and for originating the role of Wendla in Spring Awakening on Broadway. Michele has reportedly had a lifelong interest in playing the lead role in Fanny Brice, and was at one point announced to star in a 2017 revival that was ultimately never produced. On Glee, one of her character Rachel Berry’s major storylines involved her repeatedly auditioning to play Fanny Brice and overcoming multiple rejections in order to finally do so. In that sense, taking over the role of Fanny Brice from Beanie Feldstein is the culmination of a dream for Lea Michele. 

However, Lea Michele’s career also saw multiple allegations of bullying behavior in recent years. In particular, Glee co-star Samantha Ware accused Lea Michele of making her life “a living hell” and that she had made her question a career in Hollywood. A number of other Glee actors (including Heather Morris, Alex Newell, Amber Riley, and Melissa Benoist) also spoke up about Lea Michele’s treatment of the other cast members. While Lea Michele did apologize to Samantha Ware, she lost an endorsement deal with HelloFresh and she stepped out of the public spotlight for some time, generally being considered “canceled.” 

Beanie Feldstein has been cast in the musical film Merrily We Roll Along, which will be written and directed by Richard Linklater. It is an adaptation of the 1981 musical of the same name by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, which takes place over the course of 20 years in reverse chronological order. True to form, Richard Linklater plans to film the movie over the course of 20 actual years, which should keep Beanie Feldstein busy at least some of the time.