No one is about to rain on Sheridan Smith’s parade as she gives one of her best performances to date as Fanny Brice in the musical Funny Girl.
The revival of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s 1963 show has already enjoyed a successful run at London’s Savoy Theatre and Menier Chocolate Factory, now it embarks on a UK tour with its West End leading lady at the helm. Manchester was blessed with being the first stop for Sheridan and the packed out audience of the Palace Theatre were buzzing with anticipation of what the star had to offer. Smith served them up a treat and more!
Loosely based on the life and career of Brooklyn born Broadway star and comedian Fanny Brice, Funny Girl charts her rise to fame and obsessive love for the charming gambler and entrepreneur Nick Arnstein.
To take on a role that was made famous onstage and in the 1968 film version by the incredibly talented Barbara Streisand is no mean feat but surprisingly there wasn’t a moment when you compared Sheridan Smith to the iconic star. Smith has carved out a new creation of Fanny, injecting her own unique style jam-packed with hilarious facial expressions and displaying incredible comedic ability. She plays the ‘clown’ superbly and uses every cleverly crafted aside for extra laughs.
It would be unfair of me to just to gush over Sheridan though when there are so many other wonderful things to say about this production.
Her vocals are spine-tingling in the show’s most famous ballad People and her rendition of Don’t Rain On My Parade is sung with so much passion that you can’t help but get behind Fanny in her determination to get her man. However, it is when Smith belts out ‘I’m the greatest star’ that you realise there’s never been a lyric so relevant – she truly smashes it in Funny Girl.
It would be unfair of me to just to gush over Sheridan though when there are so many other wonderful things to say about this production. From Michael Mayer’s fabulous direction to the beautiful way the set design of Michael Pavelka takes you from the vaudeville stage to the glamour of the Ziegfield Follies.
Elsewhere Chris Peluso (Nick Arnstein) lives up to Fanny’s ‘Hello gorgeous’ greeting and tries his best to make the most of the often one-dimensional role. Plus, there’s some brilliant support in the shape of Rachel Izen and Joshua Lay, both giving strong performances as Fanny’s mother and her loyal friend and dance teacher Eddie.
Funny Girl is one of the hottest tickets in town and if you have been lucky enough to bag one then you are in for a treat. For those who have missed the boat there’s a second chance to catch the show when it returns to Manchester to play its final few tour dates this August.
Runs until 25 February at the Palace Theatre, Manchester. returning again from 7 – 19 August 2017.