BWW Review: FUNNY GIRL at Edinburgh Playhouse
People, people who need musical revivals, are the luckiest people in the world. And no musical has been overdue a return as the classic Funny Girl. A show based on the life and career of quirky Broadway performer Fanny Brice.
Opening on Broadway 1964 with Barbra Streisand at the helm, she brought it to the West End then the silver screen before it hung up its full scale production fur coat. Tours and concerts have taken place, but it was not until 2015 that the Menier Chocolate Factory staged the first major revival. Becoming the company's fastest selling show, with all tickets parading out the box office in one day. With much acclaim it moved to the West End and is now touring the UK.
Stepping into Streisand's iconic shoes is a destined to be National Treasure SheriDan Smith. After establishing herself as one of the countries brightest stars of theatre and TV, Funny Girl is her first major musical role since her Laurence Olivier Award winning bend and snap in Legally Blonde.
The ensemble of Funny Girl is tremendously robust, yet it is impossible to disagree that the night belongs to Sheridan as Fanny Brice. Never one to steal a scene, it is just impossible to take your eyes off her. No joke is missed, the character never drops. Streisand is a staple of many an impressionist and it could be easy to slip into her musical styling. With the comedic flare of Melissa McCarthy, and a voice that rocks the rafters, Smith truly owns the role on her own merit.
She is so natural, her acting résumé shines through. Like Imelda Staunton in Gypsy, you believe her every tap step of the way. You want her to do well as the underdog who never fits in, finally getting the guy and everything her heart desires. Don't Rain On My Parade ditches any ounce of overused fog horn Broadway boom you come to expect of the song. Instead Sheridan radiates with believable joy. Your heart beams with her. The character and portrayal is so endearing, it is implausible for anyone not to love Fanny. For a show over 50 years old, the empowering female story still feels refreshingly relevant today.
Darius Campbell swoons in the spotlight as the leading man. A voice is so divinely deep the theatre trembles with each line. A talent as tall as his skyscraper height. He never gets left behind and matches wonderfully as the other half.
They say theatre can transport you anywhere. And the elevated quality of this production and immaculate cast makes you feel like you are in the heart of the West End or smack bang on Broadway.
Funny Girl's design is flawless, and the colour pallet is gorgeous. A loving tribute to the golden era of Broadway musicals and movies. Matthew Wright's costumes are authentic, detailed and radiant. Michael Pavelka's sets are luxurious with a constant flicker of pizazz. Mark Henderson's lighting creates moments of cinematic beauty. And Chris Walker's orchestration of the sweeping songbook will have you tapping your toes and floating on air.
Don't sit and putter, this show is not to be missed. March your band out, beat your drum and catch Funny Girl in Edinburgh.
Funny Girl - The Musical runs at The Edinburgh Playhouse until the 22 April.