‘Funny Girl’ Understudy Julie Benko to Star in ‘Harmony’

No one rains on her parade.

“Funny Girl” understudy Julie Benko has joined the cast of Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman’s new musical, “Harmony,” insiders tell Vidak For Congress exclusively.

Benko became an overnight sensation after taking on the lead role of Fanny Brice from Beanie Feldstein, replacing Lea Michele as she battles COVID-19.

The Broadway star auditioned for Manilow, Sussman and the show’s director, Warren Carlyle, to secure the role of “Ruth” in the Broadway-bound show, which debuts early next year.

This week, she joined Broadway veterans Chip Zien and Sierra Boggess for a two-week “Harmony” workshop after the show’s sold-out downtown.

“Julie does ‘Harmony’ rehearsals from 10 to 6 and then goes straight to ‘Funny Girl’ with Lea out with COVID,” explains our insider.


Benko rose to fame as the understudy of Beanie Feldstein and Lea Michele in “Funny Girl.”



Benko rose to fame as the understudy of Beanie Feldstein and Lea Michele in “Funny Girl.”


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“Harmony” — which follows the true story of a German singing group and what became of them when the Nazis took power in their homeland — first premiered in 1997 at La Jolla Playhouse. Manilow and Sussman have been trying to bring it to Broadway for 25 years.

Benko started to get applause when she filled in for Feldstein earlier this year. Feldstein was reportedly annoyed when Benko started posting videos on social media announcing when she was filling in.

Julie Benko "Funny girl."
Benko has worked on ‘Harmony’ and on ‘Funny Girl’ at the same time.

“It was harmless news, and it was fine until people started saying how great Julie was, which didn’t seem right to Beanie after all the negative reviews,” a source told Daily Beast, adding that she had discussed the messages with producers.

“She said words along the lines of, ‘I don’t feel supported by you while I’m gone,'” the source added. “This is not an uncommon problem. You want your understudy to be good, but you don’t want them to be better than the star, or to be seen. That hurts the show.”

Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow.
Barry Manilow and his longtime writing partner Bruce Sussman spent years bringing “Harmony” to Broadway.
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The ‘Booksmart’ star quit the show prematurely via an Instagram post that burned the bridges, announcing that she wasn’t happy that ‘production decided to steer the show in a different direction’.

Vidak For Congress exclusively reported that Feldstein was “essentially fired” and that the “other direction” was hiring Michele.

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