Entertainment & Arts

Sheridan Smith pulls out of Funny Girl performances

Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice Image copyright Marc Brenner
Image caption Funny Girl transfers to the West End's Savoy Theatre next month

Sheridan Smith has pulled out of two performances of Funny Girl after her father became unwell.

London's Menier Chocolate Factory said the star would not appear in Wednesday's sold-out production after not taking part in Tuesday's show.

It added it would "take each day as it comes" and would "never ask nor expect an artist to perform in this situation".

Smith's father is reported to have been diagnosed with cancer.

'Family come first'

The actress plays real-life comedian and singer Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, the role that made Barbra Streisand famous in the 1960s when she starred in the original London production.

The show is transferring to the West End's Savoy Theatre next month after its run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, which ends on Saturday.

Smith thanked fans on Twitter for their support and said she hoped to return to finish the run for its final two nights, but her "family come first".

She also wrote a message on Wednesday saying: "Thank you so much, my beautiful followers, sat here crying at your responses. Love your support."

Image copyright Marc Brenner
Image caption Darius Campbell plays Fanny Brice's lover and husband Nick Arnstein in the musical

The Cilla and the C Word star also promised fans she would arrange new tickets personally, also telling others she would provide them with backstage passes and even a train fare to see the show.

Smith, who has protected her tweets so only followers can see them, added her father wanted her to continue with the role and the show was her "escapism".

The statement from the Menier Chocolate Factory came after it was reported Smith had felt pressured into returning to the show.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sheridan Smith receiving her OBE at Buckingham Palace last year

A spokeswoman said: "Our priority at this time is to Sheridan and her family. Sheridan's primary concern is quite rightly her father's wellbeing, 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. She will not be performing in Funny Girl this evening, and we will take each day as it comes. Tonight's performance of Funny Girl will go ahead with her understudy Natasha J Barnes."

She added the show had been a "tremendous success", saying: "For those patrons who have tickets to any affected performances at the Menier and choose not to see the show, the producers are in agreement with Sheridan, and would like to confirm her offer of tickets to see her in Funny Girl at the Savoy. Tickets will be subject to availability."

Affected audience members should contact the Menier directly, she said.

Smith, who has two Olivier awards for her stage roles in Legally Blonde and Flare Path and was made an OBE last year, has described the part of Fanny as her "dream role".

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