Funny Girl

Theatre, Musicals
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(29user reviews)
 (© Johan Persson)
1/10
© Johan PerssonSherdian Smith (Funny Girl), Joel Montague (Eddie Ryan)
 (© Johan Persson)
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© Johan PerssonSheridan Smith (Fanny Brice)
 (© Johan Persson)
3/10
© Johan PerssonSheridan Smith (Fanny Brice)
 (© Johan Persson)
4/10
© Johan PerssonSheridan Smith (Fanny Brice)
 (© Johan Persson)
5/10
© Johan PerssonSheridan Smith (Fanny Brice)
 (© Johan Persson)
6/10
© Johan PerssonSheridan Smith (Fanny Brice), Joel Montage (Eddie Ryan)
 (© Johan Persson)
7/10
© Johan PerssonSheridan Smith (Fanny Brice), Joel Montage (Eddie Ryan)
 (© Johan Persson)
8/10
© Johan PerssonSheridan Smith (Fanny Brice), Joel Montage (Eddie Ryan)
 (© Johan Persson)
9/10
© Johan PerssonSheridan Smith (Fanny Brice)
 (© Johan Persson)
10/10
© Johan PerssonSheridan Smith (Fanny Brice)

Sheridan Smith is exactly as great as you'd expect as she steps into Barbra Streisand's iconic shoes

May 12 – it has been announced that Sheridan Smith will take '2-4 weeks leave of absence from the production due to stress and exhaustion'. Natasha J Barnes will play Fanny Brice during this period

Barbra who? It’s no small triumph that Sheridan Smith has all but banished the ghost of productions past in this revival of the musical that made Barbra Streisand’s name in 1964. Streisand owned the role of New York comedienne and singer Fanny Brice so utterly that no-one had staged ‘Funny Girl’ in London since.

Until last year, that is, when this Menier Chocolate Factory production sold out instantly, with Smith charming giggles and sympathetic sighs from everyone who saw it at the intimate venue. That show has now transferred to the West End and Smith is still terrific. Songs that have been inextricable from Streisand for decades are transformed. The iconic ‘People’ – traditionally a drawn-out belter - becomes something gentler and more yearning. ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ deserves its predictable round of applause.

Smith’s eloquent (not to mention flexible) face makes it easy to understand how a gauche Jewish girl from Brooklyn won over audiences to become vaudeville’s biggest star in the early 1900s. Her eyebrows alone deserve acting accolades, raising laughs with the tiniest twitch.

This is Smith’s parade and other performances tend to suffer by comparison, though Marilyn Cutts brings warmth, humour and energy to the role of Fanny’s mother.

Some set pieces have been expanded to fit the 1,150-seat Savoy Theatre. The ‘Henry Street’ party scene fills the stage with spinning skirts and leaping gents in a way that makes you wish for more big chorus numbers. There’s no getting around the fact that ‘Funny Girl’ is pretty thin on plot - even by the standards of musical theatre. It’s a tale of girl meets no-good boy. It seems thinner than ever here because Darius Campbell, while vocally impressive, lacks the charisma to transform Fanny’s gambling, womanising lover into a credible suitor.

Not to worry. It’s really all about Smith. ‘I ain’t no chorus girl,’ she says in an early scene. Too bloody right

By: Louise Schwartzkoff

Posted:

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:13
  • 4 star:13
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|29
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Staff Writer

Funny Girl musical tells you the story of Fanny Brice making her performance debut in New York City as an actress and singer and her tumultuous love relationship with Nick Arnstein. This new musical in London West End runs for a short period of time at the beautiful Savoy theatre until early October, It follows in the step of the original 1968 Broadway musical and the lead character playing Fanny Brice is totally amazing, she delivers a breathtaking performance and steps right into Barbara Streisand's shoes who played the movie a few decades ago. The costumes, the cast on stage and the music are outstanding. Funny girl will take you  back in time in New Yorks' early 1920 vaudeville atmosphere during the performance, Its funny, its grand and glamorous! You will have a great evening and stand on your two legs in the hand and applause... this is a one time opportunity to see this classic Broadway's musical in London. I totally recommend it, its AWESOME!

tastemaker

Sheridan Smith is an absolute delight to watch in this production.  Her performance is so effortless and you can’t help but fall a little in love with her as well as her character, Fanny Brice.  The supporting cast are great too - not easy when the lead is such a star and they complement her beautifully.  The story is tinged with sadness but you leave the theatre on a high - it’s hard not to after those songs and choreography.  A must watch show!

Tastemaker

A great production but ultimately a one woman show. Sheridan Smith is the shinning light here and is a joy to watch on stage. Absolutely hilarious and fabulous voice bringing a lot of fun to the stage which may otherwise had been a bit of a bland production.

tastemaker

Who can play a part made famous by Babara Striesand in the film of Funny Girl?

Sheridan Smith is the obvious star of this show - which is not that well known. It has a few will known big numbers but it's not on the stage very often.

I was totally blown away by Sheridan who takes the light every time she is on stage. Her comic timing is impeccable and her voice is spot on at every stage.

If I'm honest the story is not one to blow you away. A rising star and her rocky relationship - it's pretty text book. Also Darius who plays the male lead is a little stiff at times, but there are 2 duets that are brilliant.

Make sure you go as it ends soon - ignore all the bad reviews from a few months ago about Sheridan being drunk, I was ready for it to be bad but she was spot on!!


I was lucky enough last Tuesday evening to see Funny Girl. After taking two months leave from the show I was truly ecstatic to hear Sheridan Smith would be returning that evening to play the part of Fanny Brice. Sheridan did not let the audience down and was truly magnificent in the role. Sheridan received a huge standing ovation at the end to which you could see she was totally overwhelmed, as she displayed tears of joy for the amount of support she has received since her triumphant come back. I would definitely pay another visit to see Funny girl again. With the tickets being relatively cheap this is a must see!!


Sheridan Smith is back and on great form! Excellent performance by Sheridan playing Fanny Brice - a young talent destined for the stage. Fun, laugh out loud funny and high energy.  Despite the plot being a little slow at times the perfomance was excellent and well deserved the standing ovation given by the entire audience! 

Tastemaker

I was lucky enough to get last minute tickets to this show, and I' really pleased I did!


The show is set in the early 1900s, and centres around Fanny Brice, who, from a very young age knew that she wanted to, and was going to be, a star. 


Although Sheridan Smith is meant to play Brie, she is currently being replaced by Natasha Barnes, who you may not have heard of...yet.


Barnes' comic timing was spot on, with the audience in stitches on numerous occasions. Darius Campbell (formerly Darius Danesh of Pop Idol fame!), played Nick Arnstein, and he was, as expected, pitch perfect, with both very low and very high notes. At the time I didn't know who the actor was, and I said to my mum 'doesn't he look like Darius!'....only just checked, and it was him!


The cast of older ladies playing Brice's mother and mother's friends were very well cast, and got a great cheer at the end, and Eddie, a love interest of Brice was portrayed fantastically. 


The standout character was Natasha Barnes playing Brice. Wow. You may not have heard her name yet, but you soon will. She was just the absolute star of the show, stealing the audiences hearts from the first minute with her beautiful voice, wonderful acting and great comic timing. She deserved every second of love she got from the audience during the standing ovation...and she was the only one that had a standing ovation too!


This is well worth a watch, and you can also get day tickets from £15, or so I'm told!

Staff Writer

I'm not one for old-school, misogynistic musicals. And that pretty much sums this show up. But despite the lack of plot (other than women can't have a career and a husband and if they do, they certainly can't be more successful than the man), the show was brilliant. Actually, no. Natasha Barnes was brilliant. Her range was incredible. Her comedy was on point. And I truly can't believe anyone would have performed it better (sorry Sheridan). She was definitely the shining star in this show and carried it the whole production. If this doesn't shoot her into the West End hall of fame, I don't know what will!


Natasha Barnes was incredible! The whole performance was wonderful but Barnes stole the show.


Wow wow wow Natasha Barnes was wonderful a star in the making, so pleased she got this opportunity to shine and totally engage me in a brilliant performance.

Tastemaker

Funny Girl is a musical that had somehow escaped my notice, other than the famous 'Don't Rain On My Parade', so I was near the front of the queue for Sheridan Smith's Menier Chocolate Factory transfer.

Firstly, Natasha Barnes is a fantastic replacement, with a stunning voice and a bubbling charm. She's a pleasure to watch. Darius (who I didn't recognise as the former pop star until the post-show Google) was suave and slick, and the rest of the cast performed well.

Everything was there - the staging and costumes, the set, etc - but despite a shining first half, the second left me cold and the songs just weren't there to pull you along. It was disjointed, and if I'm honest, a tad dull. The funniness of Funny Girl seems sadly dated.

But that's just me, and plenty of audiences seem to love it, so if you're a fan of the plot then all the other elements are there to make it a 5 star show.


I saw this last night with Natasha J Barnes playing Fanny Brice while Sheridan Smith takes a rest from the show. I had heard great things about the unknown understudy and she didn't disappoint. She absolutely blew the audience away with her powerful voice, comic timing and movement. Word on the street is that Sheridan is returning to the show in a few weeks so if you're interested in seeing a high quality show and supporting an unknown talent then get your tickets quick. If not, then make sure you catch it before it closes in October. Whoever you get in the leading role will be great and if you're a fan of musical theatre then you need to see this show. The leading man is a treat for the eyes and ears too :) 


I am a little bit late writing my review, but for those of you desperately awaiting the return of Sheridan, you are in for a treat. Having been a fan of the film and the songs I was very excited to see the play, regardless of who the star was. I love a musical, there is something about the feeling you have when you leave the show, it's very uplifting. Sheridan was hilarious and really brought the energy to the whole show. I cried, I laughed and a I love it. We had amazing seats near the front, which meant you could really feel part of the show as Sheridan jumped around the stage and made eye contact and winks at the audience. Would love to see this again!

Tastemaker

When the pre-show announcement that the celebrity star is being played by the relatively unknown understudy is met by cheers and applause, rather than sighs and groans, you know you are witnessing something special.

Funny Girl has not has the easiest transfer from Mernier Chocolate Factory to West End's Savoy theatre; Sheridan has had to take time off which meant the show was left without its star...but not for long. Natasha J Barnes has not only filled Sheridan's shoes, but completely made them her own. Brilliant comedic timing and a cracking pair of pipes, Barnes owned the stage and was truly sensational. Her rendition of Don't Rain on my Parade gave me goosebumps and was completely captivating.

Supported by a very slick and professional ensemble, beautiful choreography and a very suave Darius Campbell as Mr Arnstein, this show is timeless and a true classic. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll leave the theatre knowing you have experienced one of the West End's best shows. Wait for Sheridan's return, or grab your tickets now, either way, you will not be disappointed.


No one can compare to Barbra and Omar, but Natasha and Darius did a very good job!


Amazing show. Natasha was outstanding as Fanny and I was not disappointed at all. The whole cast put on a wonderful performance. A show well worth going to see.


We booked Funny Girl purely because Sheridan Smith was in it. When she went of sick we were very disappointed (though we totally understood and stand by her). We were blown away by Natasha, she played Fanny Brice brilliantly and the rest of the cast were superb too.

We love it


Initially a bit disappointed that we would be seeing an understudy but no need to worry. Natasha was superb, a star is born. The rest of the cast was superb especially the actors playing Rosie Brice and her 2 cronies.


I went to see Funny Girl yesterday I booked tickets because I wanted to see Sheridan smith in the role. But Natasha was brilliant and what a fantastic voice ! Great performances by everybody.

Tastemaker

Funny Girl without Sheridan Smith.


Funny Girl is one of my favourite films. There is no getting away from the fact that it is a star vehicle and I was worried for any understudy undertaking the role. It has big emotional songs that need a big voice and a big personality to fill. 

Natasha Barnes has a remarkable voice and sings the songs brilliantly. She had the audience totally on her side and received a full standing ovation at the end. She seemed genuinely moved by this.

Darius Campbell's singing is really good. The big set dance pieces are beautifully choreographed. Joel Montague is excellent as Eddie. The Savoy Theatre itself is an Art Deco chocolate box and has to be the prettiest in London.


All in all a good night out. (Get well soon, Sheridan!)

Tastemaker

What can I say? Sheridan Smith is AMAZING. She lights up the stage, her tiny presence is so huge - a class comic actress and amazing voice. But despite her brilliance I wasn't quite blown away. Partly I think the rest of the cast didn't match her strength and partly the story itself is a bit problematic for me. I know its a classic but it's not so much on the feelgood front at the end. I also found the ending very abrupt.


So - whilst I am really glad I went, unlike other shows where I think I would love to go back, I think for this girl, Funny Girl once was enough.


Champion of Musical Theatre that I am I once again sallied forth to The Savoy Theatre to see the newly opened revival of 'Funny Girl' with Sheridan Smith and Darius, and whilst she is not a patch on Babs she is splendid and so is Darius as Nicky Arnstein. Some different tunes to the film allow Smith to make the piece her own. Her voice is quite splendid. Simple yet effective sets Buy or mug a matinee granny for a ticket. I loved it like Camp Freddy loved chiffon.

tastemaker

First we need to get the elephant out of the room. The simple issue is that the role of Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl" was the role that made Barbra Streisand an icon, she was remarkable & unforgettable. So the bar is rather high.

Sheridan Smith is an amazing actress, and a great musical comedy performer, and I applaud her for taking on this challenge. Unfortunately I have to agree with "JEM S" who wrote "more Barbara Windsor than Barbra Streisand". I also agree with her that the show looks a bit "small-town" for the Savoy. Maybe the production looked bigger & better @ the Menier Chocolate Factory.You will enjoy this much more if you haven't seen the film.
Tastemaker

Sheridan Smith is a force of nature and carries this classic musical with her charm as main character Brice (made famous through Barbra Streisand). Despite her recent run in with family drama, Smith puts on a compelling American accent and uses her winsome wit and lines to worm her way into the hearts of audience members. Funny Girl has a relatively simple script compared to other newfangled musicals, charting the rise of Fanny Brice as an early funnywoman relying on her wit and voice to entertain, and is completely reliant on its star to deliver a stunning performance, but Smith is almost certainly one of West Ends doyennes of the musical theatre scene, and despite her petite size onstage, dwarfed by almost all of her costars, her voice soars through the rendition of Don't Rain on My Parade and will leave you begging for more. Expect standing ovations night after night, the Savoy has once again brought an amazing choice of musical back on the West End. 


Sheridan Smith is quite simply delicious as our heroine Fanny Brice. Right from the start she enchants & sparkles as she delivers the wisecracks & belts out the tunes. Kudos also to "Darius from the X factor". He is perfectly cast as the caddish love interest & more than holds his own on stage. I must hold my hand up & admit I have never seen the film so can not compare Ms Smith to the iconic Ms Streisand. This show contains easily recognisable tunes but even though the stars shone I wasn't blown away by the score. That said massive standing ovation at the end.


"Funny Girl - isn't that the one with Sheridan Morley?"


Despite what we overheard on the tube on the way there, this is very much the Sheridan Smith show.

Dame Sheridan adds to her portfolio of great performances in great roles in spectacular style.


She's definitely more Barbara Windsor than Barbra Streisand as times, but that just adds to the appeal of a vibrant and genuinely funny first half, and adds pathos to the somewhat more downbeat second half.


It still looks like a small-town show in a theatre that's too big, but you can't help but warm to the leading light.


Darius - as the hapless boyfriend - has a lovely voice, looks great, and otherwise has no charisma - which is probably perfect casting, and explains how Fanny gets over his ultimate departure so quickly. For she has it charisma in abundance, both as an actor and as a character.


That's why we went, and that's what we'll remember.


Sheridan Smith was on top form as always, a spectacular show full of incredibly strong voices and a lovely little story behind it. Sheridan ensures that you fall in love with Fanny Brice and the rest of the amazing cast and crew do wonders to bring it all together. Would definitely recommend that you go and see it.


One has to realise that there is a whole generation of people out there who do not know the story amd have not seen or heard of Barbra Streisand, let alone seen her performance of Fanny Brice. At the moment Sheridan Smith is the darling of the UK and people are flocking to see this show because of her current popularity, and giving standing ovations the moment she comes out for her bows. However, on Sunday night my wife and I refreshed our knowledge of the show and it's songs by watching 'Funny Girl' the movie with Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif prior to us seeing this show last night. I am afraid there was no comparison between Sheridan and Barbra. Maybe Barbra, being Jewish, helped her characterisation of the role of Fanny as it came natural to her, but having been brought up on her 'belter' renditions of the songs, Sheridan's softly sung versions seemed rather limp and tame to us. She was a lot smaller in life than TV and film makes her out to be and for me the gap in height between Darius (Nick Arnstein) and her was too great. Sheridan's Fanny was too nice and smiley and didn't seem to have the serious ambition to succeed (as is inherent in the Jewish nature) for the role. We loved the dancers, and I particularly love Ziegfeld (sounding very much like Walter Pidgeon in the movie). Darius was fine, if a little too tall, and the set was pretty basic. Having paid allot for the tickets I somehow expected more for my money. The current audience goers will probably be very happy with this show because they cannot compare it to a previous staging of the musical but it's like Evita. If you saw David Essex play Che in the original you would realise that Marti Pelllow was no comparison. If all you have ever seen was Marti, you would probably be happy with him. All in all, a pleasant show, but I don't the US audiences will feel the same way if it goes to Broadway.