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