The very moment that Sheridan Smith steps on stage as the beautifully charismatic Fanny Brice, you know you’re in for something special.
Reprising her role in a production that dominated the West End, Smith takes no prisoners, winning her audience over in a heartbeat with her outstanding vocals and charm. And that comes as no surprise, Funny Girl has been leaving sparkling prints in every theatre that it’s set foot in on its current tour.
Smith’s opening number I’m the Biggest Star, is just a glimpse of what her Olivier Award-winning performance holds, she’s only just getting started. Bringing Brice to life in the most beautiful way is something that comes with ease to her – the signature comical facial expressions to the cheeky grin to the audience when she first lays eyes on the charming Nick Arnstein, played by Darius Campbell.
I’ll put my hands up right now and say this with confidence, Smith makes this musical. There may be some that disagree with me; after all, it was Barabra Streisand who first brought the Jewish girl from Brooklyn who just wants to rule the stage to life 50 years ago. But I can’t deny that Smith has taken this role above and beyond what anyone could have expected.
Effortlessly working her way through Fanny’s trails and tribulations as she experiences both the rise and fall of her blossoming career, to hiding her heartbreak behind a smile when her life slowly begins to break apart, Smith is a sheer talent, who’s performance as Brice is sure to go down in history in the world of musical theatre.
The supporting cast also doesn’t disappoint. Darius Campbell oozes charm in his role as Nick Arnstein and equally breaks hearts when his marriage to Fanny takes a turn for the worst. And having returned to the UK after playing Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables on Broadway, Rachel Izen too delivered a noteworthy performance as Fanny’s mother, Mrs Brice.
A faultless, triumphant, spectacular production, there isn’t an element of Funny Girl that doesn’t deserve the highest praise. From the sheer talent of the ensemble to the faultless vocals in the toe-tapping numbers; Chris Walkers’ unforgettable orchestra, Lynne Pages’ choreography, Michel Pavelka’s simple, yet visually stunning set design and everything in between – nothing is raining on Funny Girls’ parade.
Funny Girl runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until this Saturday