casting call

Bye, Bye Beanie: 5 favorites to replace Feldstein in ‘Funny Girl’

Funny Girl
Beanie Feldstein in Funny Girl. Photo by Matthew Murphy

It’s been another rough patch for the Broadway revival of Funny Girl.

A week after Beanie Feldstein announced on Instagram that she had tested positive for COVID and would be missing more performances, the highly-anticipated musical revival failed to win a single Tony Award. The plot thickened on June 15, when the show’s Twitter account enthusiastically announced her return — but only through September 25. Co-star Jane Lynch, who plays Brice’s mother, will depart the production on the same day.

Not to fear — Broadway’s talent pool runs deep. But it’s also a business. According to the New York Times, the show cost $15 million. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but Feldstein’s reviews were more ruthless than raves. (Time Out NY’s Adam Feldman wrote, “Beanie Feldstein falls on her Fanny.”)

So who will step into Fanny Brice’s bloomers? We’ve got a few ideas. (Note: Not included, perhaps the most obvious choice if producers are going for a 42nd Street moment — Julie Benko, Feldstein’s current understudy, who’s getting viral raves for her performance.)

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Anna Kendrick

What Hollywood may lack in originality, it makes up for in consistency, repeatedly turning to Kendrick for musical-to-movie adaptions after she proved her prowess in Pitch Perfect. Roles in The Last Five Years and Into the Woods followed, along with a tribute performance to Shirley McClaine at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors.

Lea Michele

If she can refrain from sh*tting in her co-star’s wig, Michele, too, has the visibility and vocal chops to bring Fanny Brice to life. The Glee star has been doing PR damage control since the 2020 story broke about her bad behavior on set, but she reemerged at this year’s Tony Awards for a Spring Awakening reunion alongside Jonathan Groff and the rest of the original cast.

Zooey Deschanel

Perhaps a wildcard on the screen-to-stage list, Zooey Deschanel could bring the laughs to Funny Girl, proven by seven seasons on the hit series The New Girl. Most fans might not realize that Deschanel has had a side-gig as a musician and vocal artist for nearly two decades and is one-half of the musical duo She & Him alongside M. Ward.

Lindsay Mendez

But what about a tried and true theater performer — someone whose blood runs thicker than chardonnay in a sippy cup at a matinee of The Lion King? Enter Lindsay Mendez. With six Broadway credits to her name, including a stint as Elphaba in Wicked and a Tony Award for her portrayal of Carrie Pipperidge in the 2018 Broadway revival of Carousel, Mendez could be a fortuitous choice for Fanny Brice.

Jessie Mueller

Broadway’s chameleon, Mueller consumes every role in which she’s cast. With a vocal quality that seamlessly transitions from soaring soprano to a heart-aching belt, she reimagined Carole King in the biopic musical of the same name, then tackled Waitress featuring a score by Sara Bareilles (who’s headed to Broadway this spring in a revival of Into the Woods). Mueller’s a true triple-threat, but what producers think Funny Girl needs to keep audiences coming remains to be seen.

BONUS

Feldstein isn’t the only cast member departing this fall. Jane Lynch gives one of the musical’s most stylized and on-point performances, and filling those shoes is no small feat. So would producers consider an unconventional take on the role?

Jinkx Monsoon earned a BFA in theater from the Cornish College of the Arts and has brought theatrics to drag since their early days in Seattle. Jinkx is embracing a feisty, maternal quality on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, perfect for Mrs. Brice, who puts up with her daughter’s antics like water off a duck’s back.