Almost instantaneously after Broadway’s Funny Girl announced that Beanie Feldstein will leave the production this September, people have shot out of their seats to announce that their own personal Christine Daaés could sing it, sir! Leading the rumor mill currently is none other than Miss Rachel Berry herself Lea Michele, who has been on a little desk lamp–related redemption tour with HBO’s Spring Awakening documentary and even performed at the Tonys. It would make for a nifty marketing hook to get Michele into the show, especially to turn real-life further into a simulacrum of the events of Glee right after Glee itself landed on Disney+, but is it the right choice overall? Especially when Michele has herself apologized for mistreating her castmates and allegedly (though she denies this) threatened to shit in one of their wigs? We at Vulture are not quite ready to march our band out in this parade. So we gathered the members of our lively theater to come up with some suggestions for Fanny Brice replacements of our own.
Danielle Brooks: Look, I understand that Danielle Brooks is already going to be in The Piano Lesson basically exactly when Beanie’s leaving, but I still want it, so leave Samuel L. Jackson behind and enter into my fantasy world. Because the fact of the matter is that we need someone who is not only a stunning comedian, a fantastic actress, and a world-class singer but also someone who can actually leave Barbra’s shadow behind. Thinking about that, I keep returning to Danielle’s standout performance in Shakespeare in the Park’s Much Ado About Nothing. She not only performed the material well but also completely made you forget all other actresses who had attempted the role. For comedy, for vocals, and for a redefinition, my dream Fanny is Danielle. —Jason Frank
Anna Kendrick: People get so mad when I say Anna Kendrick should play Fanny (and I am the first to admit she isn’t Jewish), but she has the range, correct level of fame, Broadway history, and what is Fanny if not a scrappy little nobody?! —Zach Schiffman
Julie Benko: I believe that the world should operate by mid-century studio-musical rules, and therefore, if there’s an understudy who’s doing a great job when the lead leaves a show, she should get the part. By all reports, I’ve heard from people who have seen it (and from the various shouty people who love to post about these things on cursed message boards) that Benko has been killing it as Beanie’s understudy. Yes, she’s not a name yet, but in a moment when people have pushed for more recognition for understudies, why not seize the narrative? Give the people another Sutton Foster. —Jackson McHenry
Amber Riley: Let’s not repeat history. In the great Diva-Off of Glee season two, the scrappy Rachel Berry contentiously tied with her opponent, natural-born diva Mercedes Jones, in a rendition of “Take Me or Leave Me” from RENT. For this, Ryan Murphy’s sins will never be forgiven. A vocally strong candidate, Amber Riley would be a just choice, if not purely for the talent, for the Glee reparations we all deserve. —Zoë Haylock
Caissie Levy: I endorse! I’m overdue on a review, so I can’t write you a blurb though. —Helen Shaw