Sunday 25 September 2016

Standing ovation for tearful Sheridan at Funny Girl opening night

Published 21/04/2016 | 00:46

Sheridan Smith
Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith wiped away tears as she received a standing ovation on the opening night of Funny Girl in London's West End.

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Smith previously performed the role of Fanny Brice, made famous on film by Barbra Streisand, in a run at the Menier Chocolate Factory where she pulled out of performances after her father was taken ill.

The Cilla actress said she felt "pressured" to return to the stage when she missed the shows last month. In a now-deleted tweet, the actress wrote: "You have no idea what I'm getting pressured into. They don't give a f*** about my dad!"

A spokesman for the production said at the time: "Our priority at this time is to Sheridan and her family. Sheridan's primary concern is quite rightly her father's well-being, and we support her wholeheartedly. "We would never ask nor expect an artist to perform in this situation and ask that you respect her and her family's privacy at this time."

But Smith appeared to have put all the controversy behind her for her performance in front of a star-studded audience at the Savoy Theatre.

The show is back in the West End for the first time in 50 years since the original Broadway hit transferred in 1966.

Smith wiped away tears and clutched her chest as she was was applauded by stars including Alison Steadman, Sue Johnston, David Baddiel, Samantha Bond and Myleene Klass at the opening night performance.

Celebrities at the performance also took the opportunity to pay tribute to comedian Victoria Wood, who died on Wednesday at 62.

Steadman described her as "one of the most talented women of our time".

"She was so clever and her simplicity of humour was so lovely, it wasn't complicated, it was just truthful and brilliant and we are going to miss her terribly," she said.

Samantha Bond broke down in tears as she said: "I didn't know her but she's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so to lose a talent like that at the age of 62 is completely devastating."

Comedian Baddiel said: "Round about the time Victoria was starting out there weren't a lot of women comedians on the telly so she was a pioneer, but she was also just really funny and unbelievably good at creating ground that meant people thought, 'she's talking about my life'.

"I didn't know her that well, I didn't know she was ill, but she came to see my show and afterwards we had a long chat and went home in a cab. I dropped her off at her house and I thought, 'I'm so privileged to get to share a space with these people'.

Funny Girl is showing at the Savoy until October 8.

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