Review: Sheridan Smith Is The Greatest Star In Funny Girl
Sheridan Smith has big shoes to fill in Funny Girl, stepping into the role made famous by Barbara Streisand's Oscar-scooping 1968 performance. But as Fanny Brice — the Broadway star loved by Irving Berlin and Florenz Ziegfeld — Smith is a joy to watch.
From the first number, If A Girl Ain't Pretty, the deal is clear — this girl shuns pretty in favour of funny. Based on the true story of Brice, this frothy musical follows her story from odd-one-out wannabe chorus girl to the star of the Ziegfeld Follies.
Smith's entrance — grinning in an oversized romper — brings a collective audience smile and spontaneous applause. With the encouragement of nice guy, Eddie Ryan (the lovable Joel Montague), she bursts into I'm The Greatest Star — and we believe her already.
Darius Campbell firmly erases any residue of his Popstars rendition of Baby One More Time (remember that?) with a strong performance as Nicky, Fanny's suave admirer.
It's not flawless. There's a fluffed word or two and occasionally inaudible lines, but Smith sparkles and is quick to wring the humour from any song. She and Campbell's rendering of You Are Woman, I Am Man — packed with suggestive smiles and raised eyebrows — brings the audience to rollicking laugher. She handles the the emotional numbers with ease too, bringing a tear-welling charm to People.
The plot's a little thin with several events glossed over (the birth of Fanny's child is barely mentioned), and the action feels slow post-interval, but who cares? We're not here for the serious stuff. The hilariously camp Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat, complete with a stick-on moustache for Smith, is quick to reclaim the comedy as the show heads to a bittersweet finish.
Funny Girl is at the Savoy Theatre, Strand, until 8 October. Tickets cost from £15-£125 and can be purchased online. Londonist saw Funny Girl on a complimentary ticket
Last Updated 21 April 2016