Funny Girl sold out at the Menier Chocolate Factory within a very short time of going on sale, so I was pleased when a transfer to the Savoy Theatre was announced. I ended up getting a ticket for press night, so the atmosphere in the theatre was fantastic, and I really enjoyed myself.
With a book by Isobel Lennart, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Bob Merrill, Funny Girl is based on the real-life story of Fanny Brice, who rose to stardom in the early decades of the twentieth century despite her unconventional appearance and personality. In fact, it was her differences that probably helped make her a huge star, becoming a much-loved star of the Ziegfeld Follies. The musical showcases her rise to fame, as well as her troubled relationship with husband Nick Arnstein, who has a bit of a gambling problem.
As Fanny, Sheridan Smith is superb, her charisma, comic timing and stage presence spot on throughout. I was really impressed with her singing voice too, even in the big numbers like “People” and “Don’t Rain On My Parade”. Darius Campbell is excellent as her husband Nick, showcasing his strong vocal talents in “You Are Woman, I Am Man”, and his height compared to Sheridan’s short stature allows for plenty of comic moments. Marilyn Cutts as Fanny’s mother and Joel Montague as her loyal dance teacher also offer strong support.
Michael Mayer’s direction brings out the humour of the songs, and Michael Pavelka’s set design successfully evokes the glamorous world of theatre. The story is engaging, taking us through the ups and downs of Fanny’s world, though I admit to being irritated at her willingness to do anything, even give up her career, for the man she loves. Overall, though, this is a superb production of the musical, held together by Sheridan’s sparkle.