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Review Round-up: Funny Girl at the Menier Chocolate Factory

The Menier Chocolate Factory’s revival of Funny Girl has been one of the most highly anticipated musicals of the year. Starring Sheridan Smith in the iconic role of Fanny Brice, all eyes were on her at press night, Wednesday 2nd December 2015, to see if she could fill the shoes of Barbra Streisand.
Find out what theatre critics had to say about the Menier’s revival of the musical, and the central performance of Sheridan Smith…

Michael Billington, The Guardian (4*)
Sheridan Smith brings to the role her own brand of exuberant mischief and spiritual warmth. Where audiences admired Streisand, they palpably adore Smith.”
“Michael Mayer’s production and Michael Pavelka’s design exhibit real class.

Paul Taylor, The Independent (5*)
Smith looks set to prove unsurpassable in her own right with this radiantly warm and winning take on Fanny Brice.
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.

Quentin Letts, The Daily Mail (4*)
Sheridan Smith has such scrumptious stage presence. She can make the right corner of her mouth quiver, the tiniest inward dent suggesting naughty mirth. In a small space like London’s fringey Menier theatre the audience can relish every tic and twitch.”
“Darius Campbell is well cast as Fanny’s hunky but hopeless husband.

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard (4*)
Sheridan Smith gives a finely detailed interpretation of aspiring Broadway diva Fanny Brice, alive to the part’s comic richness and its moments of tragic vulnerability.” “It’s a piercingly truthful performance – sometimes gutsy, sometimes anxious, and always a delight.

Dominic Cavendish, The Daily Telegraph (4*)
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.”
“In general the show strikes one as having less shock of the new and more the schlock of the old, despite the valiant efforts of the ensemble and slick director Michael Mayer.

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out (4*)
Smith is not Streisand: she is clearly not New York Jewish, and she’s less camply fabulous than Babs was. But if her stock in trade is a sort of irrepressible sweetness then she infuses Brice with that in a way that makes the part her own.
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.
To all intents and purposes it’s a one-woman-show, and that woman nails it – only a fool would rain on Sheridan Smith’s parade.

It’s not all about the critics’ views though; after all, it’s the ticket-buying public who ultimately decide a show’s fate. So what have the theatre fans been tweeting about Funny Girl?

  • Front row. Laughed and cried.  Best afternoon in the theatre for a long time.  Thank you!!!
  • “@Sheridansmith1 is insanely brilliant in #funnygirl @MenChocFactory -a truthful, moving&beautiful performance in an excellent production.
  •  “Absolutely loved @FunnyGirl_UK @MenChocFactory last night. @Sheridansmith1 was an absolute dream. What a dazzling show!
  •  “Divine show lead with wit, wisdom & grace by beautiful Sheridan.

Funny Girl is sold out at the Menier Chocolate Factory for the duration of its run there, but audiences still have the chance to see it when the production transfers to the West End next year. It is set to run at the Savoy Theatre from 2nd April to 10th September 2016.

Funny Girl
Savoy Theatre
Strand, London, WC2R 0ET
9th April 2016 to 10th September 2016

Author

  • MissJulie

    Julie is a theatre enthusiast, and is particularly keen on new writing. She writes articles each week for our website including a popular weekly ‘In Profile’ which features actors and actresses that are not in lead roles and are often in the Ensemble.

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