Lea Michele Performing With The Cast of 'Funny Girl' at Tony Awards Despite Ineligibility Status

Michele formally took over the role on Sept. 6, 2022.

Lea Michele has enjoyed monumental success since formally joining the cast of the Broadway hit Funny Girl in September 2022.

But while she's earned praise for deftly portraying the coveted role of the beloved character Fanny Brice, there's a simple reason why she's not eligible for a Tony Award. 

According to the Tony Awards' rules and regulations under eligibility requirements, "in order to be eligible, an actor or actress must perform in the role on the production's opening night and must perform in the minimum number of performances to which the producer of such production must invite and make tickets available to Tony voters as required by Rule 2(a)vi)."

And therein lies the issue -- the original actress who performed Funny Girl on opening night was Beanie Feldstein, who left in the wake of the show being at risk of closing due to poor reviews and lackluster ticket sales. That all changed after Michele formally replaced Feldstein in September.

Michele and the cast of Funny Girl are still set to take the stage during Sunday night's ceremony as one of the evening's running list of performers. The move, which goes against the Tony's tradition of having only nominated shows perform, is a sign of the show's new direction.

Other performances included cast of the Neil Diamond musical A Beautiful Noise -- which didn't receive any nominations -- &Juliet, Kimberly Akimbo, Into The Woods, Shucked, Some Like it Hot, Camelot and Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

The former Glee star's debut came on Sept. 6, 2022, and she wowed the audience, who would go on to give her a rousing ovation. Both The Daily Beast and Variety reported that Michele, 36, received four standing ovations at the August Wilson Theatre. She received her first standing ovation upon her entrance, and there were at least three more before the end of the first act.

Her highly anticipated debut in the role drew a star-studded audience that included Michele's Spring Awakening castmate, Jonathan Groff, Glee creator Ryan Murphy, and Harvey Fierstein, who added new material to the musical revival. Drew Barrymore and Zachary Quinto were also said to have been in the audience.

As for how she feels about not being eligible for a Tony Award despite all the success onstage, Michele told The New York Times back in September that she's not sweating it.

"You might think that’s the biggest piece of bullsh*t that I'm going to say to you all day," she told the outlet, "but I really don’t care about that at this point. It's just about being able to play this part."

Amid her success on Broadway, Michele told Variety last month that she's not going anywhere when she wraps Funny Girl in September. While she's keeping tight-lipped on the details, Michele has already got another gig lined up.

"I already know what it is," she teased to the outlet. "You know it."

The 76th Annual Tony Awards are slated for Sunday, June 11 at the United Palace in New York City, and will air at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT on CBS and Paramount+.