Beanie Feldstein’s chaotic ouster from Broadway Funny girl Revival – and the pretty cursed decision to replace it with her joy Star Lea Michele – has been the story on everyone’s lips and keyboards for the past week and is sure to be revived once Michele makes her debut as Fanny Brice in September.
It’s shocking and often gratifying when a celebrity scandal fulfills a longstanding public narrative. Michele, a very open one Funny girl Fan, not only had performed several songs from the 1964 musical joy and even at the 2010 Tony Awards. (I’d argue that her version of “Don’t Rain On My Parade” trumps the Barbra Streisand original). And the idea that she’d been auditioning smart for the part all along — and must have been furious, as Feldstein and her joy Co-star Jane Lynch was cast in the production last year – has been difficult cut on social media from former Gleeks and anyone familiar with Michele’s career.
It’s also rare that anyone other than theater nerds handle the logistics behind the scenes of a Broadway show. But Michele and Feldstein’s film credits and greater celebrity status have given the average TV and film viewer a foothold in an otherwise niche controversy.
And yet it feels wrong to call this particular debacle satisfying, considering who’s benefiting from this casting shake-up and who’s being punished.
When rumors first surfaced that Michele was replacing Feldstein, my Twitter timeline was full of people amused by the idea of a hungry, tenacious (but extremely talented) performer getting the part of his life — and snatching it from someone who could probably should do were never hired because of their lackluster vocal range. Michele’s previous leaks, including racist and transphobic remarks towards her colleagues, which came to light during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, have received little mention. And a lot of the people I saw were discussing it spring awakening The star’s demeanor described her past offenses in broad, lukewarm terms like “mean,” “rude,” and “diva.”
Based on what Michele’s victims have said about them, those words are not Not appropriate in her case – although I don’t think “diva” should automatically equate to oppressive behavior. (Beyoncé would never do that Name background actors “cockroaches”.‘!) However, using adjectives like “mean” and “rude” to wrap up certain accusations of racism and queerphobia is frankly dishonest, smoothing a uniquely damaging experience into a mild, even universal one.
For example, we’ve all dealt with someone bumping into us without saying “excuse me,” or not opening a door for us— behavior I would consider rude. But not everyone knows the pain and humiliation of being trans and being told in front of other people that you’re in the wrong bathroom, or being black and dealing with micro-aggression from a white colleague who outranks you – both things Michele was accused of.
Perhaps all of this would have been easier to swallow if Michele had shown the slightest degree of introspection or remorse in the pseudo-apology she posted during the 2020 controversy. In a statement posted to Instagram, she claimed she couldn’t remember any of the behavior she was accused of, apologizing for the way her actions were “perceived,” not the hatred that appeared to be reflected in her hearts brewing. As I would advise any stubborn real housewife in resolving a conflict, apologizing for something you don’t believe you did isn’t really an apology, and saying you’re sorry like someone is for your actions interpreted is not true accountability.
Now the conversation about Michele’s Funny girl Thankfully, the casting is starting to shift into a more distraught, frustrated tone, with many Twitter users acknowledging how completely fucked up the situation is. And one of Michele’s accusers joy Actress Samatha Ware, has expressed her anger about her ex-colleague who essentially gets credit for emotionally terrorizing people throughout her career.
In the same vein, the unnecessary annoyance and embarrassment this whole ordeal has caused Feldstien has been acknowledged in comments and by those directly involved Funny girl Revival. Still, it’s disappointing that for all the admissions of guilt over how the producers handled the situation, the producers completely dismiss the moral implications of casting Michele and the people directly affected by her past behavior. Also, one would hope that a wealthy actress like Feldstein — who has acted in hit films — like book smart and lady bird and who has a famous older brother – would be seen as a victim in all of this, but certainly not the most affected person.
We’ll most likely have to contend with the public ignoring Michele’s verbal abuse records again this fall when she inevitably does an amazing job Funny girl and might even deserve a Tony nomination. Overall, the question is not whether Michele should ever be able to work again. But after all the crimes she’s gotten away with, should she land one of Broadway’s most coveted roles? Absolutely not.