Maria Friedman (born 19 March 1961) is an English actress and director of stage and screen, best known for her work in musical theatre. She is a seven-time Olivier Award nominee, winning three. Her first win was for her 1994 one-woman show, By Special Arrangement. She has also twice won Best Actress in a Musical for the original London productions of Passion and Ragtime. She is more recently known for her role as Elaine Peacock in EastEnders. She also made an appearance as the narrator in the 1999 straight to video version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
19 March 1961
Adrian Der Gregorian (2006–present)
Friedman was born in Birmingham in the West Midlands, the daughter of Clair Llewelyn Friedman (née Sims), a concert pianist, and Leonard Friedman, a violinist for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Her father is from a Russian Jewish immigrant family and her mother is English. She began her education in Germany, and by the age of five returned with her family to England after the divorce of her parents.
She first gained fame when she won an Olivier Award for her one-woman cabaret, Maria Friedman By Special Arrangement and another Olivier Award (Best Actress in a Musical) in 1997, starring in Stephen Sondheim's Passion. She became one of the main leading ladies on the London Stage.
In 2004 she originated the role of Marian Halcombe in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Woman in White in the West End and on Broadway in 2005. As previews for The Woman in White started for the Broadway production, she was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and left the show to have surgery to have the lump removed. Less than a week after the surgery she returned to the stage for the previews and performed on the official opening night. She said she would begin radiation treatment for the cancer in December 2005. The Broadway production closed after only 109 performances on 22 February 2006, in part due to her and co-star Michael Ball's frequent absences due to illness. (Friedman had planned a six-week absence for further treatment, with Judy Kuhn to be her replacement, but remained for the duration of the run once the closing was announced.)
As well as other musical shows, Maria participated in Hey, Mr. Producer!, the concert celebrating the works of Sir Cameron Mackintosh, in which she sang "You Could Drive a Person Crazy," "Broadway Baby," and "How Many Tears?" Similarly, she participated in Sondheim Tonight live at London's Barbican Centre, singing "Losing My Mind" (from Follies) and "More" (from the film Dick Tracy). She has also had several one woman shows: Maria Friedman – By Special Arrangement and Maria Friedman – By Extra Special Arrangement and has performed these in several top cabaret venues in both the UK (most recently at Trafalgar Studios) and New York City, including several engagements at the Café Carlyle.
She can be heard on many cast recordings; and has released several solo albums including Maria Friedman, Maria Friedman Live, Now and Then, and Maria Friedman Celebrates The Great British Songbook. Friedman has won three Laurence Olivier Awards and been nominated for seven.
In 2010, Friedman appeared as a soloist in the BBC Proms tribute to Stephen Sondheim at the Royal Albert Hall, London. She sang the role of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd opposite Bryn Terfel. In October 2014, Friedman joined the cast of EastEnders as Elaine Peacock, the mother of established character Linda Carter (Kellie Bright). She has since appeared in December 2014 and February to March 2015 to date, before returning for a three-month stint in September 2015.
Friedman has directed several musicals. In 2012 she directed a revival of Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, which started at the Menier Chocolate Factory and transferred to the West End at the Harold Pinter Theatre in April to July 2013.  This production ran at the Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, Massachusetts starting in September 2017, directed by Friedman. In 2015, she directed a revival of High Society at The Old Vic Theatre. The production was played in the round. She directed a revival of Stepping Out in the West End Vaudeville Theatre in 2017.
Friedman has two sons: Toby Sams-Friedman (b. 1994) with actor Jeremy Sams; and Alfie Friedman (b. 2002) with cameraman Oleg Poupko. She was married to dancer Roland Brine; her boyfriend is Adrian Der Gregorian.
- The Woman in White (Marian)
- Ragtime (Mother) (2003) (Olivier Award – Best Actress in a Musical)
- By Extra Special Arrangement
- Chicago (Roxie Hart) (1998)
- The Witches of Eastwick (Sukie)
- Blues in the Night
- By Special Arrangement (Olivier Award Best Entertainment)
- Passion (Fosca) (1996) (Olivier Award Best Actress in a Musical)
- Lady in the Dark (Liza Elliot)
- April in Paris
- Ghetto (Hayyah)
- Sunday in the Park with George (Dot)
- Merrily We Roll Along (Haymarket Theatre, Leicester) (1992)
- The Break of Day (Royal Court, 1995)
- Square Rounds
- The King and I (Royal Albert Hall)
|1991||Best Actress in a Musical||Sunday in the Park with George||Nominated|
|1995||Best Entertainment||By Special Arrangement||Won|
|1997||Best Actress in a Musical||Passion||Won|
|1998||Best Actress in a Musical||Lady in the Dark||Nominated|
|1999||Best Actress in a Musical||Chicago||Nominated|
|2004||Best Actress in a Musical||Ragtime||Won|
|2005||Best Actress in a Musical||The Woman in White||Nominated|
- "About Maria" aboutmaria.com (official site)
- Maria Friedman (9 December 2005). Broadway.com (Interview: transcript). Interviewed by David Drake http://www.broadway.com/Maria-Friedman/broadway_news/522565. Retrieved 19 February 2009. Missing or empty
- "Radio interview Woman's Hour - About Maria Friedman".
- Nikkhah, Roya (24 December 2009). "Sonia Friedman: 'There's nothing wrong with wearing pretty clothes and lipstick – and still being a strong woman'". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- "Casualty: Maria Friedman Plays Trish Baynes". Holby.tv. Retrieved 19 February 2009. Her younger sister is the theatre producer Sonia Friedman.
- " 'Passion' London" sondheimguide.com, retrieved 29 April 2019
- "Olivier Award Winners" officiallondontheatre.com, retrieved 29 April 2019
- Benedict, ."Musical: The hottest show in town reaches boiling point" The Independent, 4 December 1998
- Jones, Kenneth. "New Music: Freshly Reconceived 'Ragtime' Opens in London March 19" Playbill, 19 March 2003
- "Olivier Winners 2004" officiallondontheatre.com, retrieved 29 April 2019
- Staff writers (14 November 2005). "Stage star back after cancer op". BBC News. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
- News Desk."Judy Kuhn to Sub for Maria Friedman for 6 Weeks Starting February 14" broadwayworld.com, 20 January 2006
- Holden, Stephen."Maria Friedman: Master of a Thousand Sondheimian Disguises"The New York Times, 5 May 2006
- "Celebrates The Great British Songbook" Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine sepiarecords.com, retrieved 11 June 2010
- "Eastenders Casts Maria Friedman as Linda Carter’s Mum" tellytoday, 18 September 2014
- Shenton, Mark. "West End Transfer for Menier Chocolate Factory's 'Merrily We Roll Along' Confirmed" Playbill,
- McPhee, Ryan. "Maria Friedman-Helmed 'Merrily We Roll Along', With London Stars and Eden Espinosa, Begins in Boston" Playbill, 8 September 2017
- "Full casting announced for Old Vic's High Society", WhatsOnStage.com, 20 March 2015
- Mountford, Fiona. " 'Stepping Out, theatre review: Well-meaning revival takes step in wrong direction" Standard, 15 March 2017
- "Maria Friedman" musicaltheatrenews.com, accessed 8 November 2016
- Interview with Friedman officiallondontheatre.co.uk, 10 December 2008
- Saner, Emine "My toyboy stood by me"[permanent dead link] thisislondon.co.uk, 24 April 2006
- Taylor, Paul. "Theatre / The Break of Day Royal Court, London" The Independent, 30 November 1995