Cheryl Wins Positive Praise From Theatre Critics After West End Debut

The former Girls Aloud singer and X Factor judge is starring as Jenny in 2:22: A Ghost Story.
Cheryl bows at the curtain call during the press night performance of 2:22 A Ghost Story at The Lyric Theatre on February 1
Cheryl bows at the curtain call during the press night performance of 2:22 A Ghost Story at The Lyric Theatre on February 1
David M. Benett via Getty Images

She’s been a pop star, a model, a TV talent show judge, and now Cheryl has reinvented herself once again, this time as an actor – and it seems a pretty good one at that.

The former Girls Aloud singer and X Factor judge has won near unanimous praise from critics after making her West End debut in spooky thriller 2:22: A Ghost Story.

In it, she plays a woman called Jenny (a role previously played by the likes of Lily Allen, Giovanna Fletcher and Laura Whitmore), who becomes convinced that her house is haunted.

The show, which recently moved to the Lyric Theatre in London after first opening last year, held its press night on Wednesday, which saw usually hard-to-impress theatre critics invited to pass judgement on the new cast, which also features returning star and former EastEnders actor Jake Wood, alongside Scott Karim and Louise Ford.

Cheryl on stage with her co-stars
Cheryl on stage with her co-stars
David M. Benett via Getty Images

With her casting having initially proved to be a surprise to both her fans and theatre obsessives, Cheryl has won them over with her debut – here’s what the critics had to say of her performance...

“Cheryl transcends the fact that she arrives on stage pursued by celebrity glitter. At first she’s both funny and down to earth as Jenny, who is left on her own in a large house while her husband, Sam, is working. An early joke about drinking gin and producing ‘breast milk slammers’ lands well. If there’s a concern it’s that she’s a little too understated, but then between the screaming fox sex and the more inexplicable bumps in the night supernatural tensions rise and Cheryl proves herself more than able to ride the emotional rollercoaster.”

“Cheryl makes her debut in the glare of the West End. As her own X Factor moment, it is respectable enough for a first go, if blunt-edged: big on volume and sudden, thunderous anger.

“In fairness, the others are just as shouty. In this haunted-house tale that begins as a comedy of manners, Cheryl convincingly plays rattled new mother Jenny, who is the one who believes the house that she and her husband, Sam (Scott Karim), have bought is haunted.”

“She proves a class act and - whisper it - is even the most understated player on stage.

“She has always exuded self-composure and while that uprightness (not to mention her flawless complexion) doesn’t wholly match the frazzled new mum and hands on teacher brief, it accords with the character’s status consciousness.”

“As for Cheryl, it’s safe to say she puts in an assured debut – sure, sometimes intonation wavers, while her angry outburst can occasionally feel unexpected and one-note (then again, so do most outbursts from those suffering from sleep-deprivation). For the most part, it’ll be a turn that few critics will find major fault with.”

“Her oh so immaculate appearance and Geordie accent mean she never feels like anyone else but Cheryl: she certainly doesn’t feel like Jenny, the harried schoolteacher with a new baby she’s playing here. But she’s got great comic timing, landing big laughs with putdowns aimed at her smug husband or weird stories about a fox that mugs a shopper outside Sainsbury’s... It’s when the story’s chills set in that she stumbles a little, falling into an acting style that can sometimes be described as ‘screeching and pointing’.”

“As Jenny, Cheryl gives a confident, measured performance. Her Geordie accent may be instantly recognisable, but she fully inhabits the role. She excels in the show’s quieter, more naturalistic moments, and has a knack for comic timing. In moments, it’s hard to separate Jenny from the glamorous pop star, but when she smiles or cradles a cup of tea, her performance is totally believable.”

“But is Cheryl any good? Actually, yes: certainly good enough to bring a new crowd to this superior, remorselessly effective spine-chiller.

“Admittedly, sometimes you stop noticing her genuine emotional range or her slightly overemphatic gestures and simply gawp. Those dimples, those empathetic doe eyes, that nutcracker Geordie accent… Blimey, it’s really her! A sensational event, in every sense.”


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