The producers of West End musical ‘Funny Girl’ have announced that its star, Sheridan Smith, is to miss up to a month of performances due to stress and exhaustion.

The announcement comes after the 34 year old actress missed three consecutive performances of the production this week in the wake of the TV BAFTAs on Sunday night (May 8th), at which many speculated that she was displeased at losing out on the best actress award for her part in ‘The C Word’ – a topic close to her heart, since her brother passed away from the disease 15 years ago and her father was recently diagnosed with it.

Sheridan SmithSheridan Smith is to miss up to four weeks of 'Funny Girl' performances because of stress

“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.”

Natasha J Barnes, Smith’s understudy as the character Fanny Brice, is to continue in the role in the meantime.

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Producers assured theatregoers with tickets to the show that Smith’s absence was only temporary, and that she would be back in between two and four weeks’ time. “We are looking forward to her return to the show in due course”, their statement continued on Thursday (May 12th).

It also follows an incident less than a fortnight ago in which a performance was cancelled after 15 minutes after Smith was seen slurring her words on-stage, the producers calling it to a halt because of “technical difficulties”.

TV BAFTAs host Graham Norton was widely criticised for the joke he cracked at Smith’s expense at the weekend, in which he implied she was drunk. “We’re all excited for a couple of drinks tonight. Or, as it’s known in theatrical circles, a few glasses of ‘technical difficulties’.”

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