Sources tell Vidak For Congress that Beanie Feldstein was “basically fired” from Broadway’s “Funny Girl” before abruptly stopping the show publicly on Twitter in a move that “blinded” producers.
Feldstein, who played the lead role of Fanny Brice, announced via social media on Sunday that she would be leaving the show on July 31, just four months into a contract we’re told would last an entire year.
“When production decided to steer the show in a different direction, I made the extremely difficult decision to step out earlier than expected,” said Feldstein, 29, in her blazing post.
The ‘direction’, it seems, was away from her and to replacement, Lea Michele.
A source tells us that after bad reviews about Feldstein’s performance and declining ticket sales, the producers got sour with the star and fell off the Beanie bandwagon.
“The producers basically fired her,” the source said.
While sources say Feldstein was on a one-year contract and would play the role until April, the show is posted on social media in mid-Junesaying: “14 weeks left to see Beanie Feldstein & Jane Lynch now until September 25th.”
A source tells us that six months was thought to be a good end date, since that was Lynch’s end date.
Vidak For Congress previously reported that Feldstein’s shocking exit announcement on Sunday night left producers “blindsided”. Another source tells us that the producers were told just 30 minutes before it went up.
“In the social media post, she quit after she was fired,” an insider said.
“She clearly doesn’t care,” a source said of Feldstein, noting that the post was not a smart move.
But a source close to the production tells us: “The producers definitely knew she was making this announcement and they approved that language. Yesterday an email went out from the production stating the producers her last run date and that the information was going to be released. It was no surprise to anyone.”
Another Broadway source tells us that the ‘Booksmart’ actress feels ‘betrayed’.
“The entire creative team has built a brand around a new type of Fanny for a new generation,” the source said. “Now they’ve turned on her and are pointing the finger at her as if she’s the reason the show isn’t working.”
She added: “Beanie feels attacked by everyone around her. She says, ‘You brought me here in the first place!’”
“It’s not that Beanie doesn’t have talent,” said a source. “It’s not her fault. She was poorly cast.”
The Brice role was originally played by Barbara Streisand, leaving Feldstein with big shoes to fill.
The NY Post review of the revival said Feldstein “barely muddles through the beloved songs,” not giving a “Broadway-caliber performance.”
Similarly, New York magazine reported that, “issue after issue, Feldstein’s voice disappointed her. Piercing and obnoxious when it rises above her chest, fading and piquant when it goes down even a few steps, it’s just not a sound you expect to hear on Broadway.
The New York Times said of the “Lady Bird” star’s performance: “You encourage her to lift the roof, but she barely bumps into it.”
Not all reviews were bad. The Observer wrote that she has “a sweet, warm truthfulness that makes her more approachable. She’s familiar, comfortable, like an old friend. At first you’re wary and careful, but she grows on you, as a lichen. By the time the intermission breaks seamlessly, you’re in love.”
Around the time of Feldstein’s announcement, the show’s own Instagram feed posted, “Stay tuned for exciting casting announcements.”
On Monday, the producers announced that Lea Michele would take over the role on September 6 and that Tovah Feldshuh will join as Ms. Brice.
Feldstein’s understudy Julie Benko will take the stage as Brice 2-Sept. 4.
Representatives for Feldstein and for the show did not respond to the request for comment.