7-11 March 2017
Reviewed by Melanie Allen
Funny Girl the Musical (originally opened on Broadway in the 60’s) is currently touring the UK, having been to Manchester, it is now running at the Liverpool Empire. It tells the true story of the life and loves of rising Jewish Broadway star, Fanny Brice (Sheridan Smith) and her tumultuous relationship with con-artist Nick Arnstein (Chris Peluso).
After the initial orchestral medley, the opening scene is quite poignant. Fanny Brice is in her dressing room and is looking into an illuminated mirror reflecting on her life. The story then goes back to how she was discovered and how her life has panned out. It then goes back to where she was a young girl but not your typical ‘starlet’ who gets her first job in the Vaudeville shows. She then meets the smouldering Nick and falls in love with him despite his untrustworthy past. They marry and she invests money in one of his shady deals, which results in him being imprisoned. Yet she still manages to put on a brave face and entertain, hiding secrets and the pain she is feeling.
Sheridan Smith is what attracted me initially to this show, as her acting spectrum and experience is second to none. She portrayed the emotions of Fanny like the talented superstar she really is. One minute she was crying, the next she was laughing and the next she was making us laugh. Without her as the leading lady of this show, it may not be as successful as it has been. Barbara Streisand was the original Fanny Brice in the West End and she left some pretty hard shoes to fill and Sheridan easily fulfils the role if not exceeds it. Nevertheless, this doesn’t detract from the talent of the other characters we are introduced to, in particular the funny dancer Eddie Ryan (Joshua Lay), ‘who taught her everything she knew’. Fanny’s mother (Rachel Izen) also plays a fabulous part.
This musical has a running time of 2 hours 30 minutes so with the interval is quite long for a musical, but as you are so engrossed in the story, the time just flies by. The storyline isn’t exactly on the edge of your seat stuff, but it’s highly entertaining and the performance is enjoyable and amusing. The standing ovation that Sheridan gets proves just how popular the show is with the audience, so if you get the chance to see this, do it!
Tickets cost from £12 to £60.50 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Funny Girl is at the Liverpool Empire until 11 March 2017. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 8713017.
Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE | 0844 8713017