Maria Friedman was born on March 19, 1961, is Actress, Soundtrack, Director. Born March 19th, 1960 in Switzerland. The third child (of four) to musical parents, Leonard a violinist and co-founder of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and Claire, a concert Pianist, and opera coach. All the children played piano as well, but brother Richard is a violinist and conductor of all sorts of orchestras, older sister Sarah was a flutist, but took her career elsewhere and is now a university scientist, and younger sister Sonia also played cello, and violin, and is now an acclaimed producer in the West End of London. Maria was supposed to be a cellist, but didn't like to practice. Ironically, her musical/vocal career was an accident. At the age of 14 she saw Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music", but it wasn't until 5 years later when she got her first part. In 1980, she was cast in the chorus of the national tour of Oklahoma!, only because her boyfriend at the time got a part and he asked them to take her as well. Maria, eventually understudied and played the parts of Ado Annie and Laurey at some point during the run.After a few odds and ends jobs here and there, Maria's next big break came about 7 years later in "Blue's in the Night" - at the Piccadily Theatre which recieved a SWET nomination for best Musical. The show was later transferred to the Donmar and got wonderful reviews.Maria next played Hayyah in The Ghetto at the Royal National Theatre, which won an Evening Standard Award for Best Play. (This is where she met Jeremy Sams, partner and father of her two children.) In 1990, Maria got the opportunity in her first Sondheim musical as Dot/Marie in Sunday in the Park with George - also at the Royal National Theatre, which won an Olivier Award for Best Musical and for which Maria was nominated for an Olivier for Best Actress in a Musical. Co-star Phillip Quast recieved an Olivier award for his role as George. This was directed by Stephen Pimlot who also directed The Joseph video 9 years later, and musical direction was by Jeremy Sams. Maria had to audition 7 times before receiving the part.Mary in Merrily We Roll Along at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester in 1992 was her second Sondheim show. In 1994 Maria appeared in her one-woman show at the Donmar Warehouse, Covent Garden, "Maria Friedman by Special Arrangement". The production was a huge success winning Maria the Olivier award for "Best Entertainment"(1995). After the November birth of Maria's first son Toby, the show transferred to the Whitehall Theatre as "Maria Friedman by Extra Special Arrangement" It is from this show that Maria's first solo album was produced.Maria went on to play the role of Fosca in the London production of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Passion" to much acclaim. She played opposite Michael Ball to rave reviews and won the Olivier award for "Best Actress in a musical". This to date is one of her most memorable parts, as many were unsure of Maria for the role, simply because she is known as a comedic actress. Maria was next seen at the Royal National Theatre's Lyttleton theatre in 1997. She played the role of Liza Elliott in the first London production of "Lady in the Dark". It had taken over 50 years to get it to the London stage and once again Maria received rave reviews for the show and was nominated for another Olivier award. She also recieved an Evening Standard award. Following Lady in the Dark, she took over the role of "Roxie Hart" in the smash hit London production of "Chicago". When Maria was asked to do the role following Ruthie Henshall in the shows revival debut, she originally turned it down. Maria saw the character as someone with longer legs and more dancing ability, someone she could not see herself necessarily pulling off. However, when Maria was asked to meet with choreographer Ann Reinking, She was convinced the show might be worth a go and something different. Thus, yet again she was a huge hit in the show. Reviewers raved over her performance, many saying she took the show to new heights of vocal and comedic excellence. In an unusual move Maria was nominated for the Olivier award for best actress in Chicago. Ruthie Henshall who had created the role of Roxie in London had also previously been nominated for the role. Maria starred along side Nicola hughes, and Valerie Pettiford.In 1998, Maria took a break from Chicago to play the role of the Narrator in the video production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat". It was released early in 1999 and opened up a whole new audience to Maria worldwide, particularly in the United States. Donny Osmond, Joan Collins and Sir Richard Attenborough starred along with Maria, and her oldest son Toby makes a small appearence in the beginning, as the little boy she goes into the audience to sing to.In 2000 she returned to the West End as "Sukie" in "The Witches of Eastwick" . The show debuted at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane before transferring to the Prince of Wales theatre. It was a new Cameron Mackintosh musical, with Maria, and Joanna Riding and Lucie Arnaz. Maria ended her run in the show in June 2001. The show closed in October of 2001.After Witches Maria made several concert appearances. She has also appeared as senior police officer 'Gillian Raines' in the BBC drama "In Deep". She was also heard in the BBC Radio 4 play "Swan Song". In 2002 Maria gave birth to another son, called Alfie, and in October she made an appearance at the International Theatre Festival in Wales, playing the role of Mother in "Ragtime". The show received such response that Maria teamed up with her sister, Sonia, a producer at the Ambassadors theatre group, and brought the show to the West End. Opening in March, and booking only a twelve week run, the show again got such response it extended through September.Maria next appeared and toured with her concert, Maria Friedman Live!, and finally debuted in the United States! She was asked by Stephen Sondheim and Barbara Cook, to appear at the Cafe Carlyle in New York for three weeks. The show was a smash! She also took the show to Spain, and Switzerland. In February 2004, she won an Olivier Award for Ragtime and in autumn will appear in the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, The Woman in White, at The Palace Theatre, London.
Maria Friedman is a member of Actress