Sheridan Smith is taking time off from her role in the stage musical Funny Girl because of "stress and exhaustion", the show’s producers have confirmed. Sheridan, who plays Fanny Brice in the West End production, will be replaced by understudy Natasha J Barnes during her absence, which will last between two and four weeks.
The producers released a statement confirming the news, and said that the 34-year-old star, who has pulled out of a number of performances recently, would be getting "the rest and support she needs".
Sheridan Smith has pulled out of Funny Girl because of "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 very difficult and stressful time," the statement read. "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.
"Meanwhile, we are thrilled to support the wonderful Natasha J Barnes who will be taking on the role of Fanny Brice until Sheridan's return."
It has been suggested that Sheridan is struggling to come to terms with her beloved father's cancer diagnosis in March; it is the same disease which killed her brother a decade ago.
The 34-year-old will be absent between two and four weeks
The star missed three consecutive performances of Funny Girl this week, after attending Sunday's Bafta TV Awards. She missed out on the best actress and best drama awards for The C-Word, in which she played terminally ill cancer blogger Lisa Lynch to huge critical acclaim.
Comments on social media about her disappointment, caught on TV cameras, prompted Sheridan to tweet: "When will you stop bullying? I had the best night in memory of my girl Lisa Lynch!"
She later wrote: "Well done press! U let me down, the cast, and everyone who spent money to see me," before apologising for missing Monday's show, saying: "Sorry! Sorry I'm not strong enough."
Sheridan has since made her Twitter account private.