Maria Friedman: Why You Should Come & See …Date: 25 March 2008
West End & Broadway diva Maria Friedman won one of her three Oliviers for Maria Friedman: By Special Arrangement - 13 years on, she premieres her new solo show Maria Friedman: Re-arranged.
Musicals have been a huge part of my life, but performing in cabaret in New York and in concert in Europe always reminds me that solo shows are what I like doing best. I love the close relationship with the audience. You really do look into peoples’ eyes and watch them disappearing into their own lives.
There are 22 songs in Maria Friedman: Re-arranged. I loved creating the programme, starting from scratch and sitting with someone around the piano deciding what colours and flavours we wanted from each song. The arrangers are the unsung heroes as far as I’m concerned. They literally put magic all over a song and turn it into something that breaks you heart, and for this show I’ve had great ones, like Jonathan Tunick, Jeremy Sams and Jason Carr.
The first song I chose was about giving birth, “A Child Is Born”, and the last was about death and redemption, “Dido’s Lament” by Purcell. Then I looked at the songs in the middle and it seemed like a complete muddle. I thought, “but that’s my life”, so “The Muddle in the Middle” became the show’s working title: you are born, you die and in the middle is that thing we all have a go at – life.
In a way, it’s turned out as a random hotchpotch of songs about the human condition – some funny, some sad, some yearning, others hopeful. It certainly means the audience doesn’t stay in one place for very long. But there’s no narrative thread. I don’t like theme shows. You search for a song to fit the theme, rather than because it breaks your heart or makes you laugh or cry.
So with this mix, you have an evening that’s sometimes moving, sometimes funny, very personal and performed with a great big backing band on stage – how often does that happen in theatre? Twelve live musicians? Even in the West End you often only have seven or eight in the pit. So here I am with songs by the greatest composers re-arranged by the greatest arrangers and backed by great musicians. I just have to stand still and sing!
- Maria Friedman was talking to Roger Foss
Maria Friedman: Re-arranged opens at the Menier Chocolate Factory on 27 March 2008 (previews from 19 March) and continues until 4 May.