Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Maria Friedman’s new one woman show is titled From The Heart and thank heavens for that, as during this evening’s gig at a packed Queen Elizabeth Hall it appeared that her songs were emanating from anywhere but her usually sensational voice.
One of the most gifted musical theatre performers of her generation, Friedman battled a singing problem throughout the evening and while her acting through song was flawless, her vocals were scratched and strained. If ever there was a night for stepping back from the microphone, this was it, With a set list including numbers as massive as Sondheim's Being Alive, Losing My Mind, Send In The Clowns and even The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows, there was nowhere to hide her fractured pipes.
To be fair, there were occasional moments of sublime talent. Theo Jamieson’s piano accompaniment was perfect throughout and in a recent nod to her Golde in Fiddler On The Roof, Darius Luke Thompson, that show’s eponymous fiddler, popped up for a virtuoso violin take on the show’s key melodies that was breathtaking in its genius.
As an encore, Friedman reprised her comic take on West Side Story’s Officer Krupke, a number that this blog last reviewed at her Pheasantry cabaret some 6 years ago. Back then she was brilliant and hilarious - here, the shtick was clumsy.
We all know Friedman is way better than tonight’s performance - Fane Productions should ensure that she is well rested before the show is aired again.
Photo credit: Danny Kaan