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Review Round-Ups

'Terrific' Sheridan Smith impresses in Funny Girl

The actress stole the show at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice
© Marc Brenner

Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage

★★★★

"Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice, the quirky 1920s Jewish vaudevillian who sticks out of a chorus line like a sausage at a barmitzvah, and Pop Idol hunk Darius Campbell as the fickle smoothie Nick Arnstein, is a peach of a powerhouse revival."

"Smith's performance, though, is an unqualified success. She does all the quick-fire cross-eyed goofiness of Fanny to perfection and, like all great comediennes, can melt your heart in a second."

"Lynne Page's choreography is a joy – especially the high kicks from the sitting position and the witty processions on a travelator presumably held over from Richard Jones's The Trial at the Young Vic - the dancers, leggy girls and cartwheeling boys, all absolutely terrific."

Michael Billington, The Guardian

★★★★

"Sheridan Smith brings to the role her own brand of exuberant mischief and spiritual warmth. Where audiences admired Streisand, they palpably adore Smith."

"Even though he looks good in a ruffled shirt and sings well, Darius Campbell can't find much colour and variety in the one-dimensional Nick. The best support for Fanny comes from Marilyn Cutts as her aspirational mother and Joel Montague as her lovingly loyal dance teacher."

"But, even if it's a less-than-great musical, Michael Mayer's production and Michael Pavelka's design exhibit real class."

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph

★★★★

"At a stroke – well, over the course of two and half exhilarating hours – she [Smith] has done what no actress has managed to do since this musical's 1964 Broadway premiere. That is, follow in Barbra Streisand's footsteps as the irrepressible Ziegfeld Follies comedienne Fanny Brice."

"Smith has impeccable sense of comic timing; she also has an impressive grasp of musical phrasing. She brings an infectious aura of delight to the early hymn to self "I'm the Greatest Star", sets tears in her eyes as she sounds the lonely pathos of "People", and raises the roof as high as the nearby Shard for the act one closer "Don't Rain on My Parade"."

"The second half, albeit finessed, doesn't take us anyplace quite special enough – we don't care so much for Nick to worry, with her, about the sudden loss of his dubious fortune. And in general the show strikes one as having less shock of the new and more the schlock of the old."

Paul Taylor, The Independent

★★★★★

"Sheridan Smith now looks set to prove unsurpassable in her own right with this radiantly warm and winning take on the role in Michael Mayer's exhilarating embrace of a production.

"Darius Campbell is admirably persuasive, giving a recognisable life to the dashing spouse, if about five feet taller than Smith. He's given more to work with – especially in the sequence where Fanny's song "Who Are You Now?" is turned in a hauntingly pensive alone-together duet. But it's still not enough."

"The transfer to the Savoy is a fast-selling fait accompli. Broadway after that? Surely audiences anywhere would want the sun to shine on Sheridan's Parade."

Ann Treneman, The Times

★★★★

"The word 'iconic' is just a tad overused but Funny Girl, the musical, has done one better: somehow in its publicity it has skipped the 'I' word and catapulted to 'legendary'."

"Smith is terrific and I'm not going to rain on what is, most certainly, her wonderful parade."

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

★★★★

"If ever there were a current British actor who could match Streisand for musical theatre chops and girl-next-door charm, it's Sheridan Smith."

"She's also by far the best thing about Michael Mayer's trad production. Marilyn Cutts, Gay Soper and Valda Aviks are great as Fanny's mum and her cronies, but wooden reality TV survivor Darius Campbell is hopelessly out of his depth as Nick Arnstein, the suave gambler who wins and breaks Fanny's heart."

"Still, to all intents and purposes it's a one-woman-show, and that woman nails it."

Funny Girl runs at the Menier until 5 March 2016 and at the Savoy from April 2016.

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