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Sue Sylvester is cast in ‘Funny Girl’: An alternate ‘Glee’ Broadway history

October 6, 2021 by Sophie Thomas
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Jane Lynch
NBCUNIVERSAL EVENTS — NBCUniversal Portrait Studio, August 2017 — Pictured: Jane Lynch, “Hollywood Game Night” — (Photo by Maarten de Boer/NBC via Getty Images)

I’m not quite sure when I became a true “theatre kid.” I’ll attribute my true stagey birth to 19 May 2009 though — the day the first episode of Glee premiered. Full of its outcast kids and breaking out into song every five minutes, it cemented my love of musical theatre forevermore. 

Being in high school at the same time as my role model and theatrical icon Rachel Berry was a blessing. I never put a gold star sticker by my name (although I do sometimes dot my i’s with a star in birthday cards) but her anthem “Don’t Rain On My Parade” struck a chord deep inside my soul. It was the first time I’d heard of Funny Girl, but it’d become a musical that I’d adore. 

In all six seasons of Glee (although let’s be frank, I stopped watching after season four), the show covers a number of Funny Girl hits. Rachel Berry sings “My Man” in a tribute episode to Barbra Streisand. Kurt sings “I’m the Greatest Star” to audition for West Side Story. In season five, there was a Funny Girl themed episode and in season six, Rachel eventually wins the 2020 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in, you guessed it, Funny Girl.

It’s not all jazz hands and joy though. Glee’s resident cheerleading coach and head-bitch-in-charge Sue Sylvester acts as the villainous character that despises musical theatre. She’s expertly played by comedy actress Jane Lynch, and I must state for the record that I was given an Adidas tracksuit one Christmas just because Sue Sylvester owned one. Yes, she was the baddie, but I loved her.

But now, Jane Lynch has been announced to star in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl, opening at the August Wilson Theatre in spring 2022. As a true Gleek, I cannot stop imagining the “what if?” scenario of a Glee storyline that would see Sue Sylvester cast in Glee alongside Rachel Berry. 

Glee

Just imagine for a moment that we’re living in an alternative universe where the Glee characters audition for a Funny Girl Broadway revival. Sue Sylvester decides to take a few days away from William McKinley High School, in Lima, Ohio, to audition for Funny Girl on Broadway. She walks into the audition room, singing “Little Girls” from Annie (yes reader, I know she played Miss Hannigan) and astounds the panel. Sue Sylvester is no longer a Ohio coach; she’s a Broadway star. She does it all without crossing paths with Rachel Berry, whose constant manifestation comes good when she’s cast as Fanny Brice.

So when the Funny Girl cast announcement comes out, Rachel Berry cheers at the public news she’s playing Fanny Brice. She’s achieved her dream. But what’s this? Sue Sylvester as Mrs. Rose Brice. Rachel Berry did not train at NYADA for years to appear alongside the woman who told her Glee Club was for losers.

I can picture it now: Rachel runs down the streets of New York City in the pouring rain, screaming at the top of her lungs that her one chance for stardom has been scuppered by her arch-enemy teacher. Sue Sylvester wouldn’t just be on Broadway, she’d be in the show of Rachel’s dreams. It’d be the best kind of Glee chaos.  

And if Sue Sylvester was in Funny Girl, then Will Schuester — played by Matthew Morrison — would obviously be a part of it too. Even though Will’s character is born to play a role like Mr. Arnstein, the Glee storyline would alter the Funny Girl musical to create a role just for him. He’d probably dance around the stage just like he did in the “Umbrella/Singin’ in the Rain” mashup. And yes, as much as it pains me to say it, he’d be great.

I’ve seen many TikToks of what Glee could have covered if it was still around today. Would Glee have tackled Billie Eilish songs? Definitely. Would they have had made episodes dedicated to Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen? Most likely. But nobody could have predicted the real life Glee x Funny Girl crossover, an event that is now happening before our very eyes. 

There’s talks of a Glee reboot, just six years after the final episode aired. But now, more than ever, we need a season seven dedicated to putting Funny Girl on Broadway commissioned immediately.

In real life though, Jane Lynch is starring in Funny Girl at the August Wilson Theatre in spring 2022. Beanie Feldstein will return to Broadway as Fanny Brice, joined by Ramin Karimloo as Mr. Arnstein and Jared Grimes as Eddie Ryan.