Any theater fan in the UK has heard of Sheridan Smith, but over here she is not as popular (yet) But I know she did ‘Funny Girl’ on The West End to some controversy – if tabloids are to be believed, she had bouts of unprofessionalism, and drunken outbursts. She makes a passing mention of this on her television special (Sheridan, on ITV) on which she sings songs from her solo album (Sheridan) and I have just watched the show, and have been spinning the album. Simply put, I have become a fan.
There are a lot of people who can sing, dance, and act. There are even people who can do all three. But very rare do we get to see an actor who can do all those with character. Sheridan Smith has one of those presences that are unique, and she oozes with that thing that most people would kill for – star power. In the television special, she sparkles when she speaks, and is honest and candid, sprinkled all with charisma that you will be on her side no matter what. To be honest, I had been unfamiliar with her work, with her British television work in Gavin & Stacey, etc, nor her star turn in the Cilla Black biopic. But she seems to be one of those actresses whose work blend in perfectly with the characters. I loved the special, which, really, when you look at it is an advertisement for her album, but felt a whole lot more.
Now, for the album. This is an unusual one for a Broadway diva. Because while she includes crowd favorites from her past roles (‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ for Cilla and ‘My Man’ from Fanny) she also shows her eclectic taste. I loved every single track on the album – her heartfelt cover of Rufus Wainwright’s ‘Dinner At Eight,’ her self-deprecating ‘Crazy,’ her own unique take on ‘Addicted To Love.’ Though as a whole, the sound seemed to not really gel well, as individual tracks they soar better. And she is current, with a robust take on ‘For Forever’ from Dear Evan Hansen and a sultry ‘City Of Stars’ from La La Land. The best track for me, though, is her bare-bones version of ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,’ wherein she strips the song of its usual pageantry. It is an interesting take, and for some people it may not work, but even if you like it or not, you will sense that the singer is a true original. Nowadays, that’s a rarity in a world of sameness.