Tonight I finally caught up with the production of Funny Girl which has transferred from the Menier Chocolate Factory to the Savoy Theatre in the West End. Happily Sheridan Smith has now returned to the production as Fanny Brice following an extended period of leave earlier in the run. I'm happy to report that Smith's performance is now even more refined and developed than it was at the Menier Chocolate Factory and that the production has benefited from the extra space on stage at the Savoy Theatre. It's a beautiful production of a classic show.

Seeing the show again gave me the opportunity to fully appreciate the story of a great entertainer and the history of Miss Brice's rise to fame. This happens in the first half where we start with a young Brice wanting to become 'The Greatest Star' in her first solo number, then meeting Eddie Ryan who helps her start off in showbiz, and then Nick Arnstein who becomes the love of her life. At the same time Brice was growing as a performer and becoming the headline star of the Ziegfeld Follies. The first half of Funny Girl contains the best of the most famous of the show's numbers, including the iconic 'People' and the first-half closing number 'Don't Rain on My Parade'. Both numbers were made famous by the show's original star Barbra Streisand but here Sheridan Smith reinvents them as her own. Act 2 doesn't quite maintain the musical momentum but it’s still a compelling story as Fanny becomes a mum and her marriage runs into difficulties due to Arnstein's gambling.

Sheridan Smith gives a winsome performance as Fanny Brice who became the best-paid star on Broadway. Brice appeared in 6 versions of the Ziegfeld Follies show until 1923 and was well known for her walk and series of funny faces and for being able to interpret both serious and funny songs with equal success. In this musical we see Brice performing on stage and winning over her imaginary audience as well as the show's actual audience. The depth of Smith's acting talent and interpretation of this role is immense – she has understood the character and has truly 'become' the character on stage. It's a difficult role to play in any circumstances and Smith should be commended for returning to the role and for her bold and honest portrayal of a complex character.

At the Savoy Theatre, Funny Girl maintains the intimate look and feel that the show had in its original home. In a cast with such a star turn in the lead role Darius Campbell makes a great impression as Nick Arnstein, the charmer and gambler who wins Fanny's heart, while Marilyn Cutts maintains her charming performance as Mrs Brice, always looking out for her daughter and keeping her grounded. As her two friends, Valda Aviks and Gay Soper make an amusing trio with her and their moments together on stage have their own special magic. The 'Henry Street' number sees Mrs Brice holding an opening night party at her own home and is full of charm and wit. Joel Montague – who has just been announced to start in Lloyd Webber's latest show The School of Rock following this show – is multi-layered as Eddie Ryan, Fanny's friend and mentor. He does so much to help her career and supports her throughout while secretly having feelings for her himself but watching from afar as a true friend. Bob Merrill's lyrics are full of wit, charm and depth and are a perfect match for Jule Styne's music which is full of its own vitality and prowess.

Don't miss the last four weeks of this charming revival – it’s 50 years since it was last on the London stage and this once in a generation production puts this musical comedy back on the West End stage in a revival that its original creative team would surely be proud of. There's no need for comparisons with Streisand and the way that she portrayed the role on film and on record, but Sheridan Smith makes the role her own, making the character believable and winning the audience over with her own brand of sophistication and charm. Smith remains a great star at the centre of this classic show.