Lea Michele, the former “Glee” star whose debut in “Funny Girl” turned the show’s fortunes around, performed “Don’t Rain on My Parade” at Sunday’s ceremony, despite the revival not being Tony eligible.
Don’t tell her not to sing — she’s simply got to.
This revival of “Funny Girl” — Broadway’s first since Barbra Streisand originated the role in 1964 — was eligible at the Tony Awards last year, when the actress Beanie Feldstein was its lead. The show was only nominated for one award (for Jared Grimes’s role as a tap-dancing sidekick), and attendance trended downward in the weeks after the ceremony, until Michele entered the cast, bolstering the show’s revenues.
The role was a career milestone for the actress, who had not been part of a Broadway company since she left “Spring Awakening” in 2008. It was also her first major role since a wave of criticism from former colleagues who publicly accused her of bullying behavior, which she responded to with an apologetic statement vowing to do better.
When she stepped into the role last fall, Michele insisted that ineligibility at the Tonys was not a concern of hers, saying, “It’s just about being able to play this part.”
It’s not the first time Michele, a well-known Streisand fan, has performed “Don’t Rain on My Parade” at the Tony Awards. She did so at the 2010 ceremony, shortly after performing it in character on “Glee.”
The rules that have limited the Tonys telecast amid the writers’s strike have given the ceremony more room to feature performances from shows that are not eligible for awards. Despite not receiving any nominations, “A Beautiful Noise,” the Neil Diamond musical, also performed a singalong to “Sweet Caroline.”