Third in a series of Broadway reports

NEW YORK — Lea Michele has emerged as the belle of the revival of “Funny Girl,” becoming a diva of traditional Broadway musicals fueled by a female superstar.

She put the glee and the whee into the troubled show, which was launched a season ago with Beanie Feldstein in the lead.

Michele succeeded Feldstein on Sept. 6, 2022, earning six standing ovations on her first night, and the roars of approval haven’t stop at the August Wilson Theatre. Clearly, she’s become one of the next-generation’s leading ladies of the genre of traditional stage musicals like “Hello, Dolly!,” “Gypsy,” and “Mame,” and Michele’s appeal has rewarded her the opportunity to be the Fanny Brice voice in the show’s cast album. Also, Michele’s presence has buoyed the show into the Broadway League’s “million dollar club,” meaning that the weekly “Funny Girl” box office grosses have finally logged a slot on the elite list.

Lea Michele, as Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl.”

The fingerprints may be invisible, but there exists the Barbra Streisand aura in the revival – think “hello, gorgeous!” – when Fanny is in front of her dressing room mirror. Streisand’s Broadway debut as Fanny in the 1960s, coupled with the subsequent movie version in the late ‘60s in which she also starred, has been the stuff of legend, but Michele surely will make this her own trademark in the decades ahead. Michele, till now best known as a luminary from the “Glee” TV series, is poised and powerful in delivering she show’s best-known anthems, “People,” “I’m the Greatest Star” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” lasting favorites from the score by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill.

The tale, based on a book by Isobel Lennart revised by Harvey Fierstein, tracks the show biz quest of Brice, a Jewish vaudeville wonder from Brooklyn, who becomes a headliner of the famed Ziegfeld Follies, and wife of the production’s honcho, Nicky Arnstein, played by Ramin Karimloo. They have chemistry, notably on “You Are Woman, I Am Man” and “Who Are You Now.”

Naturally, there is a poker-playing Jewish mom, Mrs. Brice, portrayed by the beloved Tovah Feldshuh, who demonstrates her seasoned charm on “Who Taught Her Everything She Knew,” a duet with Jared Grimes as Eddie Ryan. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

Funny Girl’

“Funny Girl,” a musical featuring music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, book by Isobel Lennart, revised book by Harvey Fierstein

Playing at the August Wilson Theatre, through Sept. 3

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