Entertainment & Arts

Sheridan Smith takes break from Funny Girl show

Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice Image copyright Marc Brenner
Image caption Sheridan Smith is taking a break from her role as Fanny Brice in the West End show

Sheridan Smith is to take time off from her role as Fanny Brice in the stage musical Funny Girl due to stress and exhaustion, the show's producers say.

Smith, 34, will be taking between two and four weeks of leave from the West End production at the Savoy Theatre.

Her part will be played by understudy Natasha J Barnes.

The producers said 34-year-old Smith, who has pulled out of a small number of performances in recent weeks, would get "the rest and support she needs".

Image copyright Natasha J Barnes Twitter
Image caption Natasha J Barnes has tweeted her thanks to the show's audiences

Announcing Smith's time off, the show's producers said in a statement: "The entire team at Funny Girl is thinking of Sheridan, and know she is getting the rest and support she needs during this very difficult and stressful time.

"We will all miss her enormously and send her our love and best wishes - and we are looking forward to her return to the show in due course.

"Meanwhile, we are thrilled to support the wonderful Natasha J Barnes who will be taking on the role of Fanny Brice until Sheridan's return."

The statement also said Barnes has received "high praise from audiences on the occasions that she has appeared".

On Wednesday, Barnes thanked the show's audiences via her Twitter account.

Image copyright Sheridan Smith Twitter
Image caption Sheridan Smith has previously highlighted her difficulties on Twitter

Smith, who has received rave reviews for her performances in the show, has previously written on Twitter that she was "not strong enough" and apologised to audiences for the shows she had already missed.

Her account has now been made private.

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

The production of Funny Girl transferred to the Savoy Theatre in April after a successful run at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Smith had to pull out of two performances during that run after her father became unwell.

Funny Girl is playing at the Savoy Theatre until 8 October.

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