Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl

Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl (credit: Johan Persson)

For many actors, there’s a role they’ll always be remembered for no matter what else they do. Sean Connery as James Bond, Mark Rylance as Rooster Byron in Jerusalem, Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien.

I suspect, when the day comes to present Sheridan Smith with her lifetime achievement BAFTA, her role as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl will be seen as the moment she achieved greatness.

The revival, first seen at the Menier Chocolate Factory then in the West End and soon on tour, would be worth seeing as an excellent musical but what makes it exceptional is Smith’s performance.  I saw her before on stage in Legally Blonde, on film in Tower Block and in various TV appearances including Cilla and Gavin And Stacey so I knew she was good but I never appreciated just how funny she is and just how deeply she can occupy a role.

She makes Fanny Brice seem real, a genuinely complicated human being. But there’s more to it than that. I don’t doubt that the original Fanny was uniquely great but Smith’s acting makes you believe you are seeing one of the finest stage performers of all time.

You have the chance to see this performance of a lifetime, don’t miss it.

A version of this article appeared on the Daily Echo website. Paul Lewis owns the marketing agency Seven Experience and is marketing consultant to Theatre Royal Winchester

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