The Glee alum made her return to Broadway on 6 September at New York’s August Wilson Theater for her opening night performance of Funny Girl. Michele famously replaced the show’s original star Beanie Feldstein, who left the production at the end of July.
Now, people have begun to notice several changes that were made to Funny Girl once Lea Michele stepped in as Fanny Brice – most notably, the changes that were made to Fanny’s final costume.
A viral TikTok was posted earlier this week by user Alaina Noelle showed the difference in sleeve sizes between Michele and Feldstein’s curtain call dress. As Michele is seen taking her final bow, she wears a sleeveless red dress with a low-cut neckline. Meanwhile, Feldstein’s similar red dress had much longer, flowing sleeves. Many people in the comments section alleged the changes in wardrobe was evidence of fatphobia.
“It took them no more than three seconds to remove the sleeves and change Fanny Brice’s final dress after Beanie Feldstein left,” Noelle said in her TikTok video. “And you can say whatever you want about it but as a bigger-bodied person, it was noticed, felt and noted.”
Others agreed in the comments, writing, “I went back and looked at Beanie’s dress and it isn’t even in the same concept. That’s a whole other dress. Oh my god.”
Noelle added: “[They] immediately changed the wardrobe after she left to make it more conventionally pretty. Might as well tweeted out that they need to cover plus size people.”
Over on Twitter, many more fans also noticed the difference in sleeve sizes between Michele and Feldstein’s final dress.
“I know there’s a lot of talk about Funny Girl, but there’s something that I think might be seen as a small detail to some but is an important discussion; Fanny’s finale dress,” tweeted Los Angeles Times journalist Carolyn Burt. “After Beanie left the production, so did the sleeves. And with Lea’s debut comes a new cut as well.”
“It’s fatphobic to me that Lea’s version of the final costume is so much better than Beanie’s,” one user tweeted.
Another user wrote: “The costume design team at Funny Girl: I see you putting sleeves on a plus size Fanny and removing them for a straight size Fanny...we see what you’re doing”
I know there’s a lot of talk about Funny Girl, but there’s something that I think might be seen as a small detail to some but is an important discussion; Fanny’s finale dress.
After Beanie left the production, so did the sleeves. And with Lea’s debut comes a new cut as well. pic.twitter.com/Es8MafXJ9z
— Carolyn Burt (@CarolynBurt_) September 8, 2022
— not alice ❤️🔥 (@maduhlynnfazz) September 8, 2022
@ the costume design team at funny girl: I see you putting sleeves on a plus size Fanny and removing them for a straight size Fanny...we see what you're doing pic.twitter.com/yuvuthwUdT
— jz🍓 (@jsgoober) September 8, 2022
However, some internet users defended the Funny Girl costume design team, claiming that there’s a possibility the lead actresses requested their sleeves to be a certain length. “Obviously we do not know what happened, but it is a possibility that the dress was altered to what Beanie was comfortable in,” said one TikTok user.
“According to someone who worked in the costume shop, Beanie and Lea requested their respective dresses to be like that,” someone else claimed.
Lea Michele took the stage as Fanny Brice for the first time on Tuesday, where she received a total of six standing ovations for her performance. According to news reports, audience members rose to their feet as soon as Michele stepped on stage. She also received applause for her rendition of “Don’t Rain On My Parade”, which she frequently sang as her character Rachel Berry on Glee.
According to Variety, the star-studded list of audience members included Glee creator Ryan Murphy, Drew Barrymore, Zachary Quinto, producer Jordan Roth, Harvey Fierstein, and Michele’s Spring Awakening co-star and close friend Jonathan Groff.
On 10 July, Beanie Feldstein announced in an Instagram statement that she would be leaving Funny Girl after production decided to take the show in a “different direction.”
“Playing Fanny Brice...has been a lifelong dream of mine and doing so for the last few months has been a great joy”, Feldstein said.