WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHERE: Royal Albert Hall
WHEN: 24/4, tour runs to 29/4/18
SETLIST: Don’t Rain On My Parade; Crazy; I Smell A Rat; Addicted To Love; Dinner At Eight; Mad about The Boy; Superstar; City Of Stars; Hey Big Spender; Anyone Who Had A Heart; Take Another Piece of My Heart; Talking In Your Sleep; My Man; 9 to 5; This Is Me; And I Am Telling You; I Will Survive/Happy
Sheridan Smith takes a sip of what she assures us is water (not vodka), belches and observes: ‘I should have left that one back in Wolverhampton.’
- Read on for reasons including why we think a second album’s on the cards
This is the seventh of nine UK shows and repeatedly throughout this two-hour performance she worries that her impromptu swearing will mean that she’s not asked back to this iconic venue.
But she’s nothing to worry about as the occasional cheeky knicker flash as she tries to negotiate her way in heels on to a stool to sing from counts for little when weighed against the best gig we’ve had the pleasure to see in a long, long time.
From show opener Don’t Rain On My Parade it’s clear that our number one Fanny (Brice, of course) has both a showstopping, full-throated belter of a voice in her armoury but also isn’t afraid to deploy it with a saucy wink and some cheery banter.
The death of her beloved country’n’western performer father Colin two years ago from cancer clearly still weighs heavily upon her and surely influenced the choice of songs, as well as the decision to record it, on her debut album Sheridan.
Her version of Rufus Wainwright’s family-orientated Dinner At Eight in this show’s first half is an emotional highlight of covers most of which appear on that first album.
We couldn’t help but want something a little more from that album and it is in the second half of this show when things hot up and that larger-than-life personality, comic gift (there’s a running gig about shifting her own stage furniture) and choice of female empowerment anthems really come into their own.
Starting with Hey Big Spender is as bold a flurry as the feather boa which decorates Sheridan’s shoulders for its performance. Not least because the Shirley Bassey version is so revered and so rarely covered because it’s impossible to outdo. Or so we had thought.
Dolly Parton is clearly an inspiration and the false wardrobe padding Sheridan dons here is the only thing fake as 9 To 5 inevitably persuades most to their feet.
There are two Pasek and Paul numbers (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land and The Greatest Showman) on Sheridan and here This Is Me is aired which sums up the feeling of not apologising for your flaws.
And I Am Telling You from Dreamgirls is reimagined here (as it is on the album) with the idea of refusing to accept a loved one’s departure.
It’s a too-desolate and emotionally vulnerable point at which to leave people and the final I Will Survive/Happy mash-up is just what’s needed to turn up the fun dials.
We’d love her to do more theatre next but wouldn’t bet against a second album this Christmas and an even larger tour in 2019 with the Royal Albert Hall lucky to have her back.