Lea Michele hit the stage at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre for her Funny Girl debut on Tuesday, September 6, receiving a staggering six standing ovations.
The crowd cheered as soon as Michele appeared, and following the show, the former Scream Queens star could be seen getting visibly emotional during curtain call after playing the role that musical legend Barbra Streisand originated in 1964.
The part of play lead Fanny Brice was initially given to Booksmart actress Beanie Feldstein, but after receiving disappointing reviews, Michele's career came full circle when she was offered the titular role. The recasting was heartwarmingly fitting for her fans, as Michele's character on Glee was notoriously fascinated with both Funny Girl and Streisand's body of work.
Among the actors, politicians and other A-Listers in attendance at Michele's incredible premiere were former costar Jonathan Groff and Glee creator Ryan Murphy, Drew Barrymore, designer Thom Browne and New York State Governor Kathy Hochul.
This marks Michele's biggest return to the stage since 2020 when she was accused of racist and "traumatic microaggressions" by Glee actress Samantha Ware.
"Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I'll never forget," Ware wrote in a since-deleted tweet targeting Michele's bullying. "I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would 'sh*t in my wig!'"
Ware's accusations led other cast members to comment on Michele's allegedly verbally abusive behaviors on set. Former costar Heather Morris also took to social media, calling the mom-of-one unpleasant and "disrespectful" to others.
The New Years Eve actress apologized for her actions, and later addressed the allegations yet again prior to her Funny Girl debut.
"I have an edge to me. I work really hard. I leave no room for mistakes. That level of perfectionism, or that pressure of perfectionism, left me with a lot of blind spots," she said in a statement shared the week before her premiere. "Everyone here has been through a lot, and I just have to come in and be prepared and do a good job and be respectful of the fact that this is their space."
Michele gave her statement to The New York Times.