Evan Agostini—AP

Funny Girl is my favorite musical of all time, and for over a decade I flirted with reviving it on Broadway. Ultimately, I couldn’t commit for one reason: the long shadow of Barbra Streisand, who originated the role of Fanny Brice. I was afraid of it. Lea Michele wasn’t afraid. I couldn’t believe it when I attended my friend’s opening night with Jonathan Groff. JG and I were both in tears and were absolutely astounded as Lea received multiple standing ovations, literally bringing the house down. Her acting: impeccable and nuanced. Her voice: full of joy and despair. She had done the impossible: made Fanny her own, to great critical and commercial acclaim. Older, wiser, stronger, Lea interjected the classic with a new burst of modernity and something singular: here she was playing a survivor and killing it because she herself had survived something. Many things. At age 36, she reinvented herself yet again. She was humble in this triumph and this comeback, and didn’t take for granted being the toast of Broadway. In this role, Lea Michele is truly the greatest star.

Murphy is an Emmy-winning producer and director

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