Maria Friedman: “I want to fill my life with creativity, family and friends and make the most of each day.”

Maria Friedman

Maria Friedman

Maria Friedman is a musical theatre goddess—straight off the top of Mt. Olympus— who never seems to run short of energy or surprise with her artistic endeavours.

Friedman is a FOUR time Olivier Award winning, NINE TIME NOMINATED, West End and Broadway luminary and is right in the middle of her exclusive SOLD OUT THREE WEEK RESIDENCY at Brasserie Zedel. Tickets are understandably like gold dust. We are talking ahead of her critically acclaimed concert coming to The Capitol in Horsham later this month.

So, if I was to come to a Maria Friedman concert what would I expect? “I know that you would experience excellent music and wonderful lyrics,” she says. “Best of all, I am accompanied by my good friend, the renowned musical director and Tony Award nominee Jason Carr. He is a genius; he makes orchestrations that are dazzling. We breathe together, we think together, we make music as one.”

What makes her get out of bed in the morning? “I feel that as I get older I want to take every opportunity that comes my way,” she says. “I just want to fill my life with creativity, family and friends and make the most of each day.”

Her career is quite extraordinary, but if someone had told her at 16 that she’d be doing this as a living now, would she have believed them? “No! I would have hoped they were telling the truth…” she pauses. “But I wouldn’t have believed them for one second. I was very bewildered at 16. I hadn’t got a clue.”

After three decades as one of Britain’s most renowned actresses, Friedman moved into directing them. In recent years she has gained a highly respected reputation as a theatre director, most notably for the Olivier-winning production of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory, and of Cole Porter’s High Society at The Old Vic, both received fantastic reviews.

Friedman’s feel-good production of Richard Harris’ play Stepping Out is currently playing at the Vaudeville Theatre and stars Amanda Holden. I tell her that I haven’t seen it yet as Amanda Holden makes me feel anxious. “She’s genuinely funny – I wouldn’t be anxious, Carl,” she tells me firmly. “As a director I look to cast slightly older women, because life gets much harder for middle aged actresses. You’ve got a bunch of hilarious and talented people on stage. We are one of the few shows in the West End getting a standing ovation night after night.”

We duly talk about what to expect from one of her concerts. “I hope you would laugh a lot. I can guarantee that you will have an enormous amount of fun. We navigate our way around the bigger emotions: happiness, sadness, love and loss. It’s a real potent mix.”

I ask what, in 2017, a Maria Friedman fan looks like? “Well, it’s really very mixed – because of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat film I get a lot of young people who are/were fans and those kids grew up,” she says. “I guess there are the real passionate theatre goers and of course the EastEnders lot! It’s so lovely that I get them all in a room together. It feels very much like coming around to my house for a sing song.”

Maria’s concert explores the work of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, comparing and contrasting songs from their catalogues, as well as their masterpiece West Side Story. Songs include ‘New York, New York’, ‘I Can Cook Too’, ‘Losing My Mind’ and ‘Send In The Clowns’. On May 28 she will be making a very special appearance in Horsham, for one night only.

“I’d like to encourage people to come and see me perform in Horsham and make music with me. Please come so that other artists like me want to perform there,” she says. “Take a leap of faith.”

Maria Friedman is at the Capitol in Horsham on May 28.

Stepping Out runs at the Vaudeville Theatre until 17 June.