NEW YORK — Scores of fans excitedly waited outside August Wilson Theatre on Tuesday in spite of the unrelenting rain, buzzing to see Lea Michele begin her seven-week run as Fanny Brice in what’s so far been an unexpectedly dramatic Broadway revival of Funny Girl.
“She’s supposedly going to turn it around,” Karyn Nordstrom, who was standing in line with her daughter sans umbrellas, told BuzzFeed News. “I’m excited. She sang all of these songs when she was on Glee.”
It brought her firmly back into the public discourse, seven years after her beloved (and hated) run on Glee ended. She even addressed the online joke that she can’t read, calling it sexist, after several meme iterations of the conspiracy theory went viral.
All of it mattered to the showgoers, largely Gleeks, who told BuzzFeed News they came from all over the country to see Michele perform.
Justin Davis, who said he’s a fan of Michele, joked that the show’s biggest attraction for him was “watching her read.” Andrew Davis, Justin’s husband, added that Michele’s role in Glee was a big part of his childhood. “We love her,” he said. “I’m excited to see the music.”
“I needed to feel the chaos, the talent, and tension,” said Omri Rolan. “I flew here from Los Angeles to see the show. That’s how much it means to me.”
And social media chatter aside, they were excited to see her step into a legendary Broadway role. Sloane Ptashek said she had seen Funny Girl in June when Feldstein was still playing Fanny Brice.
“I’m excited to see the differences,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I want to see [Michele] because this show is a part of her whole identity as an actor, but [the buzz] is certainly scandalous. The theater is the main part of the reason why I’m here. But it’s always funny to hear she can’t read.”