Seconds before the lights went down at Lea Michele’s first performance of Funny Girl, Jonathan Groff sped down the aisle to his seat at the center of the orchestra,
right next to Ryan Murphy, who gave the actress a starring role in Glee.
“I knew he’d be here,” the woman sitting next to me muttered under her breath. “There he is. Slay!”
As soon as Michele appeared onstage, Groff, her close friend since the days of the 2006 musical Spring Awakening, popped up to lead a standing ovation.
After a decades-long, controversy-filled history of desperately wanting to play Fanny Brice, Lea Michele was finally in the role on Broadway.
At the first performance, the audience was there to cheer on the greatest star, though you could put any part of that fervent sentiment in air quotes.
The stakes of Michele’s entrance into the show are clear: Funny Girl, the first Broadway revival of the show since Streisand opened it in 1968,
premiered this spring, inauspiciously on Barbra’s 80th birthday, starring Beanie Feldstein as Fanny Brice.
Feldstein could not sing the part (and the reviews weren’t kind to the rest of the production, either).
After getting blanked at the Tonys, the show started to flounder in ticket sales, and rumors bubbled that Feldstein might soon be replaced.