With three Olivier awards and seven nominations , the actor and director, whose new production of High Society previews at the Old Vic on Thursday night, has been at the top of the musicals tree for years. Friedman has had leading roles in the West End and at the National. She has toured her one-woman show internationally since to consistent acclaim. Her first Broadway appearance in The Woman in White in won her an award for best debut even though she was at the time receiving radiotherapy for breast cancer. In she staged a hit…. Get The International Pack for free for your first 30 days for unlimited Smartphone and Tablet access.
I was born into a family where we were always encouraged to ask questions. The house was full of conversation and debate. My brother Richard was a genius and my sister Sarah was very shy, but very clever. I came along and I loved to make people laugh and make them happy. Sonia [now a famous West End producer] came five years after and we idolised her. This industry has taught me not to be too controlling, and to delegate — you have to be very fluid. My greatest challenge has been overcoming anxiety.
Maria Friedman: ‘40 is horrific for an actress. Work starts to disappear’
Luckily for the theatre-going public, this three-time Olivier Award-winning musical-theatre actress turned Oliver Award-winning director of musicals swiftly reconsidered. A comedy about a spoilt heiress experiencing romantic complications on the eve of her remarriage, High Society originated, of course, as a sparkling film starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra, before being adapted for Broadway in the late Nineties. Every one of them is hiding something and denying themselves the possibility of having a good life. Taking the lead roles are the quietly impressive trio of Kate Fleetwood, Jamie Parker and Rupert Young, actors who are full of talent but mercifully unencumbered by big-name expectations. Sondheim has been a long-time friend and mentor of hers.
West End musical star Maria Friedman tells Matt Wolf why her recent illness helped her to rediscover the thing she loves doing best. The title of Maria Friedman's third and latest one-woman show, Re-arranged, seems at first to refer purely to matters musical. But one hasn't been listening long to this gifted actress-singer's story of her recent battle with cancer before a more profound meaning emerges, as suits a woman who, in facing illness head-on, has completely refashioned her life and her art.