Belfast Telegraph

Funny Girl producers deny reports that Sheridan Smith will not return to show

Reports that Sheridan Smith will not return to Funny Girl are "entirely inaccurate and unhelpful", the show's producers have said.

Concerns were raised as the Cilla actress, who took a leave of absence from her leading role in West End show Funny Girl in mid-May because of "stress and exhaustion", showed no sign of returning.

Initially it was said the 34-year-old would need up to four weeks to recover, with fans hoping to see her back on stage this weekend.

However, it may be over a month more before Smith is able to return to work.

Funny Girl producers Sonia Friedman, David Babani and Scott Landis said: "It is, and always has been, Sheridan's and the producers' intention that she will return to Funny Girl, and any speculation to the contrary is entirely inaccurate and unhelpful.

"Sheridan's recovery from stress and exhaustion is the absolute priority. She is doing really well and is incredibly keen to return as soon as possible.

"Following medical advice, her return to the production will be slightly later than originally anticipated - no later than the week commencing July 11."

Understudy Natasha J Barnes will continue to play the role until Smith is able to return.

On May 12, Smith pulled out of the show after missing the three previous performances.

In a statement, the producers said: "Sheridan Smith will be taking a leave of absence from Funny Girl due to stress and exhaustion.

"The entire team at Funny Girl is thinking of Sheridan, and know she is getting the rest and support she needs during this difficult and stressful time."

The statement continued: "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."

Smith first missed a performance the night after the Baftas TV ceremony after hitting out at suggestions in the media that she had looked upset after losing out on the best actress award.

The actress had been nominated for her role as the late cancer blogger Lisa Lynch in The C Word.

She tweeted: "When will u stop bullying? I had the best night in memory of my girl @LisaLynch."

After her absence, she added: "Well done press! U let down me, the cast & everyone who spent money to see me. I apologise. Profusely! Sorry! Sorry I'm not strong enough."

Funny Girl is showing at the Savoy Theatre in London until October 8.

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