Sheridan Smith steps into the starring role of Fanny Brice yet again for the UK tour of the West End hit Funny Girl.
Comedic young Jewish girl Fanny is desperate to be a star, she is confident in her strong vocals and natural comedy, and believes she belongs on the stage. However, many people in the industry deem her ‘not pretty enough’ to be on stage, and scrutinise her for not having a slim figure and beautiful look.
Fanny has a dream, and she wasn’t willing to take no for an answer. She befriends Eddie, musician and dancer who helps her to perfect her craft, and she works hard to crack her first stage debut. Her sheer determination and passion is evident through her first big belter I’m The Greatest Star, where we first get a glimpse of Sheridan’s stellar vocals.
Set in New York around World War 1, the staging mirrors theatres from that era, and the whole production is brought to life through the extravagant theatrical elements of the musical. The strong ensemble excel in the flamboyant dance numbers that include ballet, tap and even an impressive number that consists of pointe shoes with taps on. The choreography is slick and sharp – creating a showstopping piece of theatre.
Sheridan Smith shines as Fanny Brice, her stage presence is exceptional, as she entirely consumes the audience with her warming characterisation, sensational vocals and exquisite wit. Sheridan encapsulates the role of Fanny so effortlessly; her comedy timing is snappy and witty as she does not miss a beat. Although, it is the moments she reveals her vulnerability that we really see howmulti-layered her performance is.
When bachelor Nick Arnstein walks into Fanny’s dressing room one evening, she falls in love with him and they pursue a rollercoaster romance. Putting her career on the line for him, he continues to let her down and Fanny’s heartbreak is displayed poignantly on stage. Chris Peluso takes on the role of the charismatic playboy Nick Arnstein, who sweet talks Fanny into being with him. As they hit a rough patch, their conflict is engaging but the tender moments of love are touching to watch, particularly during their duet Who Are You Now where their voices blend beautifully.
It’s a musical theatre extravaganza that has all the elements of a production that will make you feel deeply, laugh loudly and dance straight out of the theatre. Sheridan Smith steals the show with her sensational performance – she truly is the greatest star.
***** – 5 Stars