It’s been a long time since a star as big as Sheridan Smith has tread the boards at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Over the past few years, there has been some big musicals at the UK’s biggest theatre, but none have starred someone with two Olivier Awards to her name.
Following on from its West End run, Funny Girl is Edinburgh this week as part of its current UK tour. Sheridan Smith is only playing a handful of the dates, so we’re in luck that she’s in town tonight. Although given the fantastic reviews Natasha J Barnes got when she stepped in during Sheridan’s West End absence, the show will delight audiences whoever is playing Fanny Brice.
For most people, Funny Girl is the film that made Barbra Streisand a household name in 1968, although she had played the role on Broadway and London a few years earlier. I have to admit that unlike most people in tonight’s audience I have not seen the film, and I know very little about the Fanny Brice. For anyone else who isn’t in the know, the story tells the tale of a young woman from New York who rises from a musical hall singer in Brooklyn to a big Broadway star.
It’s a role that seems like it was written for Sheridan Smith and her performance is utterly flawless. From the moment she walks on the stage, she has the audience captivated by her every word with her hilarious performance and impeccable comic timing that provides laughter from start to finish. The show is full of great songs, but it’s songs like “Don’t Rain On My Parade” that really allow Sheridan to shine as she brings down the end of the first act with her spectacular rendition of the classic song. In fact, Sheridan gives such a powerful performance that at times you almost forget that not a whole lot else is happening on stage. While you see Fanny Brice become a bigger star as the show goes on, it’s not a musical packed with drama and at times it does feel like the story isn’t really going anywhere.
While for the most part it is the Sheridan show, we shouldn’t forget about Darius Campbell who stars as Fanny Brice’s love interest Nick Arnstein, a role he is also reprising from last year’s West End run. He’s the object of Fanny’s affection, and Darius plays this smooth-talking, charismatic character in all its glory and can hit all the right notes when it’s his turn to belt out a song too.
Funny Girl is only in Edinburgh for a week, so please don’t miss your chance to see one of the UK’s greatest modern musical stars Sheridan Smith. Who knows when Edinburgh will be lucky enough to see someone of this stature in town again, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you go along.