There's been a lot of rain. Isn't it time for a parade?
Next year, Broadway will get its very first revival of Funny Girl, the musical biography of stage and radio personality Fanny Brice that launched Barbara Streisand to superstardom in 1964. And the star of that production has just been revealed: It will be the wonderful rising comedic actor Beanie Feldstein.
Feldstein is known to Broadway audiences for her deliciously zany turn as Minnie Fay in the 2017 Bette Midler revival of Hello, Dolly! But film audiences will also recognize her from Lady Bird and Booksmart, and in September she will star as intern, thong enthusiast and scandal survivor Monica Lewinsky in Ryan Murphy's miniseries Impeachment: American Crime Story, a look at the Bill Clinton sex controversy that rocked the nation in the late 1990s. Other upcoming projects include the film version of Stephen Karam's The Humans and Richard Linklater’s 20-years-in-the-making adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along.
Over the decades, many stars have been floated for potential revivals of Funny Girl, including Sandra Bernhard, Taylor Dayne, Lauren Ambrose, Lea Michele, Idina Menzel and most recently Lady Gaga. But Streisand's roller skates are hard to fill, especially since she also starred in the film version, for which she won an Oscar, and has put her distinctive vocal stamp on the show's two most famous songs, "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade." But Feldstein seems a very promising choice. She's on the cusp of a major career. She can really sing. And most important, she's funny—actually, actively, distinctly funny. (It runs in the family: Her older brother is Jonah Hill.)
Funny Girl's score, by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, also includes such showtune favorites as "I'm the Greatest Star," "If a Girl Isn't Pretty" and "The Music That Makes Me Dance." Harvey Fierstein will be revising Isobel Lennart's original book, which has long been considered an obstacle for modern revivals, and Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) will direct.
“The first time I played Fanny Brice was at my third birthday party, in a head-to-toe leopard print outfit my mom made for me," says Feldstein in a press statement. "So, it’s safe to say that stepping into this iconic role, on Broadway and not in my family’s backyard, is truly my lifelong dream come true. I am immensely grateful to be able to do so alongside such a remarkable creative team, and cannot wait for audiences to get back in theaters again!”
Performances of Funny Girl will begin in the spring of 2022 at a Broadway theater to be determined. The rest of the casting has not yet been announced, including for the male lead, gambler Nick Arnstein.