Well hello gorgeous, Sheridan Smith is back in town to reprise her role as Fanny Brice in Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s dazzling Funny Girl, parading at the Savoy Theatre. Following a sell-out run at the Menier last year, there’s no doubt that Michael Mayer’s revival is set to take the West End by storm. Gypsy, there’s another show hot on your heels.
This iconic 60s musical, made famous by the showbiz queen Barbra Streisand, has a firm place in many people’s hearts. It’s my Mum’s favourite. However, Smith completely brings the role into her own and injects it with lashings of sparkle and fizz. You can’t help but come out with the widest Cheshire cat grin and the standing ovation is testament alone.
Based on the real life of Broadway star Fanny Brice, it tells the story of a young Jewish Girl in New York City who gets her break in vaudeville, starring in Ziegfeld’s Follies. Swept up in the romance of the stage and stardom, she falls for the suave Nick Arnstein (Darius Campbell), a wealthy gentleman with a penchant for ruffle shirts and gambling. Their love is a true Hollywood fairy-tale until Nick gets caught up in an embezzlement scandal that is set to ruin both him and Fanny. But her torch that she carries for him remains tenderly aflame.
We’ve come to know (and love) the comedic side of Sheridan Smith with Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Gavin and Stacey but it’s her roles in gritty dramas that have earned her a shelf brimming with awards. Funny Girl provides the platform for her to really shine with witty humour and painful heartbreak in equal measure. She has you in the palm of her hands, laughing with her Corporal routine and then completely reduced to tears with ‘The Music That Makes Me Dance’. What I simply love about Fanny Brice is her unwavering fight – don’t rain on her parade.
Smith isn’t the only star to dazzle on that stage as this stellar cast deliver a phenomenal performance. Campbell as Nick Arnstein oozes charisma and charm and it’s easy to see Fanny’s smitten glow. His musical talents are renowned and the duets with Smith show an undeniable chemistry that are heart-warming to watch. I also harbour a real love of the three wittering Jewish women played by Valda Aviks, Marilyn Cutts and Gay Soper who are divinely sweet, particularly Mrs Brice.
Jule Styne’s delicious score soars under Theo Jamieson’s musical direction and has all the brassy pizzazz that I adore in his iconic music that just lights up the stage. Equally Lynne Page’s bold choreography brims with vaudeville charm and energy and Joel Montague’s tap routine is magnificent.
Sheridan Smith is truly the greatest star on the stage right now, and with an overwhelmed, teary standing ov – you better get used to it gorgeous as there’ll be many more to come. It’s the hottest ticket in town so hey Mr Arnstein. Here. She. Is.
(Photo courtesy of Johan Persson)