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
Average User Rating
4.3 / 5
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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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.