Kelly Jobanputra takes a trip to see Sheridan Smith’s latest turn as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl at Bristol Hippodrome
The popular musical Funny Girl is currently running at the Bristol Hippodrome and last night’s performance by the lead star Sheridan Smith proved that it’s completely living up to the hype.
Faults can be found in almost every production but there really aren’t any obvious ones with this show, which is smooth, polished and slick in every, perfectly constructed scene.
It’s all about the true life story of Fanny Brice (model, comedian, singer, theatre and film actress) and her transformation from a Brooklyn music hall singer to a massive Broadway star.
From start to finish, it was hard not to fixate on Sheridan, who gave without doubt one of the most expressionistic, exceptional performances I have seen. Judging by last night, there’s no wonder she’s hailed as “the greatest theatre star of her generation”.
The amount of laughs she got was joyous and infectious, and as she belted out some of the most iconic songs in film and theatre history (such as People and Don’t Rain on My Parade) the crowd dished out rapturous applause.
As the crowd followed Fanny on her journey to stardom and love in the first half of the production, you could literally feel the seats shaking slightly as everyone giggled at what was unfolding. Sheridan played the part of a bumbling, awkward, actress very well and other members of the cast, such as Rachel Izen who played the part of Fanny’s mother, complemented her performance perfectly.
The part of Fanny’s husband, Nick Arnstein, was played by Chris Peluso, who performed with equal amounts of ease and gusto. He too got a healthy amount of applause from the spectators whenever he finished a song.
The second half was more serious than the first as Fanny’s funny world showed a more sombre side; we learnt that all was not as it seemed with her partner and that being famous does not necessarily bring happiness.
You could really feel the pain of what Fanny Brice must have gone through and the room went from hysterics to silence; showing just how versatile Sheridan is as an actress.
This was the sort of production that was full of strong, poignant messages, encouraging the audience to never give up on their dreams. Fanny was told in the beginning of her career that she was too short, had no shape and was not pretty enough to be the stage. She went on to prove that if you try hard enough, you can succeed – and what an inspirational message that is for all of us to take away.
Funny Girl runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday the 25th of March; atgtickets.com
Images © Johan Persson