Broadway is having a particularly tumultuous week. Between news of casting changes on Funny Girl, starring Beanie Feldstein of Booksmart fame, and the announcement of the closing date of musical newcomer Paradise Square, after actors were reportedly unpaid and two lawsuits filed against the show’s producers , theater fans buzzed for days. All this news can be overwhelming for a non-Broadway consumer to digest; but theater fans on TikTok have taken on the challenge of breaking down the seemingly endless drama with equally endless power.
TikTok has content for everyone, but musical theater content is especially popular: the hashtag #MusicalTheatre has more than 4.5 billion views on the app. Not only are there many avid theater fans active on the platform, but TikTok users are notoriously interested in any kind of drama that takes place online, e.g. Couch Guy, Surviving Sophia, Gabby Petito, etc. When those two are mixed on the Internet, a news cycle was born, just as we see with the Funny Girl fiasco unfolding right before our eyes.
To summarize, Feldstein is currently starring as Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival, and her performance has been negatively reviewed by dozens of critics. Her run as a lead actress would always be limited and it was announced that she would be making her final bow at the August Wilson Theater in September. After the reviews, rumors began to circulate that Feldstein’s replacement would be announced soon and that Lea Michele – a Broadway alum and former star of TV’s Glee – would replace her.
Michele has long been considered an obvious choice to play Fanny Brice; but after she was called out for problematic behavior on the set of Glee in 2020 by one of her former castmates, Samantha Ware, that seemed less likely; and Feldstein eventually landed the coveted part. Two years later, and people haven’t forgotten Ware’s accusations (which were supported by other Glee colleagues); many were annoyed that Michele was even considered for the role and were then quite upset when it was announced that she would be taking over from Feldstein as Fanny Brice in September. Feldstein then posted an Instagram statement announcing that she would be moving her last performance date to July 31, citing the reason producers “decided to take the show in a different direction.”
Another show that has seen a fair amount of junk in the past week is Paradise Square. Despite a Tony win for lead actress Joaquina Kalukango, the show—not a huge box-office hit—will shut down on July 17, as the producers seemingly have bigger fish to fry with two lawsuits. One, according to Variety, was a federal lawsuit filed by the Actors’ Equity Association over unpaid health, 401(k), and retirement contributions, totaling $174,000. Meanwhile, United Scenic Artists filed another lawsuit, “claiming the production owes $156,965.85 in unpaid wages, dues and retirement contributions,” Variety writes.
This drama, too, made its way to TikTok, with people tearing apart the meatiest parts of the story and adding context for non-Broadway consumers. A TikTok user aptly named @theatreislife noted that the show’s closing announcement, just hours before Funny Girl’s announcement, was quickly overshadowed. The user also noted that Paradise Square was set to release an original cast album in May, which had already been recorded, but was reportedly not released due to unpaid performers.@theatreislife
Reply to @vampyrewinters that cast and crew deserve THE WORLD (and their pay) #paradisesquare #garthdrabinsky #broadway
♬ original sound – Kate Reinking
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