Maria Friedman: From the Heart, Queen Elizabeth Hall

The acclaimed, multi-award winning singer and actress Maria Friedman sings from the great songbooks in her 2019 show, From the Heart after successful runs at Crazy Coqs this spring. I first saw Maria at an anniversary show for the Olivier Awards and it is not easy to be memorable on a billing that includes Elaine Paige and Clive Rowe but Maria achieved it with her beautiful rendition of Beauty and the Beast.

When I heard Maria was doing a show where she sang songs that meant something to her I rushed to say yes. I think Friedman is a fantastic vocalist, with real charm and talent. With anecdotes and crucially beautiful tunes Friedman and her musical director Theo Jamieson put on a night that is about having a good time but also the emotion behind the songs. The recent loss of Friedman’s mother brought about raw emotion but also giggles as she recounted her mother’s advice to drop Getting Married Today from Company “You can’t sing it”.

For me Maria has no weaknesses as a performer. She can hit the notes, she can hit them in moderation (but could do more if she really wanted to show off) but the musical numbers play to her strengths as an actress. Getting Married Today is a difficult number (though she can do it) but Friedman makes it seem effortless despite its vocal challenges and intensity an actress requires to be Amy (or Jamie if you are Jonathan Bailey in the fabulous Elliott Harper adaptation). Friedman is ever the perfectionist; she apologised profusely about small lighting issues (such as being plunged into darkness throughout the first half) but the audience didn’t care. Her Send in the Clowns, a song I have been informed is perfect for auditions if you cannot sing, shows what an emotional tour de force it is in the hands of a professional.

Friedman is just a class act, not afraid of crowd pleasers like Papa Can Your Hear Me alongside songs because she just likes them. She always seems to be having fun; there was a lovely bit where she dragged a man up from the stage to sing Worst Pies in London at him. Whether you are an old fan or new to the work of Friedman From the Heart is a wonderful show to see a exceptional woman at her finest.

Maria Friedman: From the Heart was produced by Fane for Southbank Centre on 10 November 2019 . Please see there website for future productions

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