Celebrity

Lea Michele Got A Standing Ovation At Her Funny Girl Debut Before Even Saying A Word

Life imitated art as she portrayed Fanny Brice eight years after her Glee character Rachel Berry played the role.

Bruce Glikas/Funny Girl on Broadway

Bruce Glikas (@broadwaybuce_) for FUNNY GIRL on Broadway

On Sept. 6, Lea Michele returned to Broadway for the first time in 13 years, making her debut as Fanny Brice in the revival of Funny Girl at New York City’s August Wilson Theatre. Her Glee character Rachel Berry played the iconic role onscreen more than eight years ago, making it a full-circle moment for both Michele and longtime fans.

Bruce Glikas (@broadwaybuce_) for FUNNY GIRL on Broadway

Michele received her first standing ovation before even speaking a word, with the crowd’s cheers nearly silencing Fanny Brice’s famous opening line, “Hello, gorgeous.” Before intermission, the star garnered four standing ovations, most notably after her performance of “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” a fan-favorite number on her first season of Glee.

Bruce Glikas/WireImage/Getty Images

It was a Spring Awakening reunion for Michele, as her former Broadway castmates Jonathan Groff, John Gallagher Jr., and Gideon Glick were in the audience, with Groff leading nearly every standing ovation for his BFF.

Bruce Glikas/WireImage/Getty Images

Drew Barrymore attended opening night, too. Glee creator Ryan Murphy, who once planned to mount a Funny Girl revival starring Michele after the series ended, also showed up to support Michele.

Bruce Glikas/WireImage/Getty Images

Other celebrity guests included Zachary Quinto, Lee Pace, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Bruce Glikas (@broadwaybuce_) for FUNNY GIRL on Broadway

Michele was joined by Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh, who also made her Funny Girl debut as Fanny’s mother Rose Brice. She took over the role from Michele’s former Glee co-star Jane Lynch, who told ET that she plans to see the show soon, calling it “the role of a lifetime” for Michele.

Michele and Feldshuh were given flowers from their new company members at the curtain call to celebrate their first Funny Girl performance, which Michele received with tears and embraces from co-stars Ramin Karimloo and Jared Grimes.

Bruce Glikas (@broadwaybuce_) for FUNNY GIRL on Broadway

One of the most surreal moments of the night was when Michele, as Brice, said, “I haven’t read many books.” While it’s written as a simple joke in the script, the line has extra layers amid the debunked rumors that Michele can’t read, making some attendees laugh and others full-on gasp.

Bruce Glikas (@broadwaybuce_) for FUNNY GIRL on Broadway

Michele received a grand total of seven standing ovations during her first show, including the cast’s curtain call, where she noticed a teary-eyed Groff in the audience and pointed directly at him.