Review: Sheridan Smith Returns To Funny Girl *****
Friday 8th July 2016… the day Sheridan Smith returns to Funny Girl at The Savoy Theatre, London.
The evening started out like any other good theatre evening; a burger, a couple of wines and a leisurely walk to the theatre in the smoggy London heat. As we were walking to the theatre from Soho, we discussed the excitement we had for seeing the current funny Girl, Natasha Barnes, who’d been subjected to rave reviews by critics and joked about how brilliant it would be if tonight was Sheridan Smith’s first night back. We bought our tickets back in late April/early May, a couple of weeks before Sheridan Smith took a leave of absence. At the time, the statement was Sheridan would reprise her role as Fanny no later than 11th July. Well, now we were on 8th July but with no announcements, or even whispers of a near return, we had resigned ourselves to watching Natasha’s Fanny Brice…
The Savoy Theatre, situated right outside the grand entrance to the 5* Savoy Hotel, is a beautifully quaint, early 1900’s style theatre which seats only 1,158 people making it a snuggly affair once inside. Although there are three tiers, the tiers are narrow and steep. Visibility is still good at the top however, as long as you don’t have ignorant people leaning over the safety rail…!
We were settled in our seats, just below the lighting box, ready for the show to start at 7.30pm. Suddenly over the speaker the announcement came…
“Ladies and Gentleman, in tonight’s performance, Nick Arnstein will be played by Matthew Goodgame and Fanny Brice will be played by [you could tell the stage manager was going to enjoy this reaction] … Sheridan Smith!”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a reaction quite like the one which erupted after that announcement. Sheridan Smith returns to Funny Girl! It made me feel emotional just to know there was so much love in the room for Sheridan upon her return. It’s been a tough few months for the actress and this reaction must have been the positivity she needed to get through her first show back. I was proud to be in the audience!
I didn’t really know any of the story, or the songs of Funny Girl, before I saw the show. I went in with no expectations or pre-conceived ideas, and went to enjoy the night as a classic night in musical theatre. I was in for a real treat!
The only song I knew was “Rain on my Parade” – everyone know that one surely!? But all the songs were a real treat. The musical was littered with catchy tunes, funny scenes and comical dance scenes. I couldn’t help but think that this role was made for Sheridan Smith, or Sheridan was made for the role. It was almost like she was playing herself in a lot of scenes.
I won’t spoil any of the plot for people who aren’t aware as I think it’s great to go in with no idea of what will happen, but what I will say is that it’s a brilliant watch, easy to follow story with song after song which will leave you with a mix of emotions; happiness, sadness, tears and belly laughs… lots of belly laughs!
The best bit about the night for me, was the closing scene and very emotional standing ovation for Sheridan at the end. I’ve never felt goosebumps like it. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. All 1,158 people on their feet, cheering and clapping, sending their positive energy to the stage in an almighty ‘thank you and welcome back.’ Humanity prevails!
Welcome back Sheridan, may your star shine bright for years to come.
Pro’s: Superb performances from every single cast member, catchy tunes and a reason to fall in love with theatre all over again. Sheridan Smith reprises role as Fanny Brice. Sheridan Smith returns to Funny Girl!
Con’s: None! It didn’t last long enough?
Top Tip: Check SeatPlan.com for the best seats in your price bracket.