Maria Friedman in Concert

Maria Friedman

Legendary Maria Friedman performs her extended show on Sondheim and Bernstein at Cadogan Hall

Maria Friedman 2

Maria Friedman

“It is her storytelling, expression of yearning and intensity, and dramatic interpretive skills that distinguish this artist.”

Internationally acclaimed singer and actress Maria Friedman expanded upon her “Lenny and Steve” show, first produced at the Matcham Room at The Hippodrôme last year, for the current Musical Theatre concert series at The Cadogan Hall.

Friedman has long been associated with Stephen Sondheim, the relationship starting in 1990 with her playing Dot in “Sunday in the Park With George” at the National Theatre. By all accounts, they seem to have a jokey, bantering friendship based on mutual respect, and given Sondheim’s early partnership with Leonard Bernstein, this is a good choice of material, allowing us to chronicle the different styles, subject matter and musical forms the composers developed over the decades.

In this carefully structured show, songs are sometimes grouped according to the musical they originate from and others by association of ideas. Occasionally, she would sing an item in character, such as “100 Ways To Lose A Man”, but for the most part she chose to sing as herself, using her own accent and putting her own stamp on the material. An example of this was the love-song medley of “A Little Bit in Love”, “In Buddy’s Eyes”, and “I Have A Love”.

Despite the large size of the venue, Friedman managed to make everyone feel included and the space seem intimate. Her singing, whilst displaying exemplary breath control, is not big and brassy. If anything, it is more ‘legit’ in sound. Nor does she resort continually to belt technique. It is her storytelling, expression of yearning and intensity, and dramatic interpretive skills that distinguish this artist. Her renditions of “Lonely Town” and “Being Alive” should not be missed.

Skilfully accompanied, as ever, by her long-time collaborator Jason Carr, with whom she has a somewhat tempestuous relationship ,apparently, these two always seem always to come up with a collection that stirs the senses and delights throughout.

I have seen, and written about, many cabarets and concerts and not many artists move me to tears. With “Losing My Mind” and “Send in the Clowns”, especially, Maria Freidman never fails to do so. If you have not seen her in concert, your education is lacking.

Fiona-Jane Weston

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About Fiona Jane Weston

I am Fiona-Jane Weston and as well as being a performer myself (see website), I write reviews of and features on shows, mainly on the London cabaret and theatre scene. I have worked in theatre for many years, but decided to embark on a new direction in cabaret in 2009, when I produced 20th Century Woman: The Compact Cabaret. Not wanting to neglect my love of spoken word, particularly drama and verse, I made the conscious decision to include these elements in the programme, as well as wonderful songs, to tell the story of women's changing status and preoccupations throughout the 20th Century and up to now. I was invited to audition for the renowned Cabaret Conference at Yale, run by the late legendary Erv Raible, and that was thrilled to be one of only 26 accepted that year, where I was taught by the masters of the genre. Amanda McBroom (composer of the Bette Middler hit "The Rose" and the poignant "Errol Flynn"), Laurel Massé, original member of Manhattan Transfer, Sally Mayes, Tony Award nominees Sharon McNight and Tovah Feldshuh, and New York cabaret veteran Julie Wilson were all on the faculty. We were also treated to the musical direction of Alex Rybeck, Hubert Tex Arnold and the now late Paul Trueblood. With the benefit of their insightful teaching and great encouragement, I took my show to The Duplex in New York, where I was delighted with the response. Since then, I have produced Loving London: The Capital Cabaret, using the same format of songs, poetry and drama, in various London venues, including Leicester Square Theatre and The Crazy Coqs. 2014, the centenary of World War 1, saw the launch of Wartime Women: the Khaki Cabaret to a sellout house at St. James Theatre, London, garnering great notices, including from The Times and Musical Theatre Review. I have since been touring the show to Belgium and throughout the UK. I hope these reviews and interviews entertain and educate at the same time, and if please do leave comments in the box. It's great to engage in a conversation about the Arts. Fiona-Jane Weston
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