Review: Sheridan Smith gives everyone a reason to smile in Funny Girl at the Bristol Hippodrome

PUBLISHED: 12:31 23 March 2017

Sheridan Smith stars in Funny Girl. Photo by Johan Persson.

Sheridan Smith stars in Funny Girl. Photo by Johan Persson.

Johan Persson

Are you feeling down on your luck? Insecure, vulnerable or down-trodden? Well, the perfect pick-me-up exists in the form of Sheridan Smith’s performance in smash-hit musical Funny Girl, which opened at the Bristol Hippodrome this week.

Funny Girl is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday. Photo by Johan Persson. Funny Girl is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday. Photo by Johan Persson.

Smith is something of a national treasure, adored for her roles in timeless TV sitcoms like Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps and Gavin And Stacey. However, her stage credentials are equally impressive and she shines as leading lady Fanny Bryce in Funny Girl – a tale of ambition, love and adversity.

Funny Girl charts Bryce’s rise from an unorthodox and slightly-frumpy aspiring stage star in Brooklyn to a nationally-revered icon, thanks to her relentless enthusiasm and quick-witted personality.

What she lacks in terms of long legs and a beautiful smile she makes up for in intelligence, humour and confidence, and it is these endearing qualities which catch the attention of dashing businessman Nick Arnstein (Chris Peluso).

Without giving too much away – the show really needs to be seen to be fully appreciated – Bryce’s success is offset by personal heartache but she proves there is nothing greater than female ambition and hard work.

Smith excels in the role, with her impeccable vocals delighting and surprising the audience in equal measure, but her supporting cast are every bit as impressive.

Arnstein is the polar opposite of dowdy Bryce – he is the ultimate bachelor, possessing money, charm and good lucks in abundance – but Peluso’s portrayal of this enigmatic character is far from stereotypical. He plays Arnstein with sensitivity and elegance, meaning the audience cannot work out whether to love, loathe or simply pity him – in short, he is a master of his craft.

Funny Girl won stellar reviews from critics during its time in London’s West End and deservedly so. The show is witty, clever and heartwarming without being cheesy, contrived or melodramatic – and Smith’s outstanding performance was more than worthy of the standing ovation it received at the end of last night’s production.

Funny Girl will be at the Bristol Hippodrome, in St Augustine’s Parade, until Saturday.

For more details and tickets, visit the Bristol Hippodrome website.

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