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Maria answers your questions  
Check out our exclusive interview with the Woman in the White star.
Maria Friedman

We finally managed to pin down the understandably incredibly busy star of The Woman in White and posed your questions to her….. 

I believe the original final scene showed a stonemason chiseling out the name of Ann Catherick on the tombstone. Why was this changed?

Leonie

This scene was changed during previews. It was felt by the creative team that an alternative scene might work better.

I saw the first preview of The Woman in White on 28th August and I loved it. Were there any major changes in the show on Opening Night?

Daniel Vincze, Hungary

The show has obviously evolved since you last saw it. It has become tighter and in some scenes slicker. We have added some extra designs to the scenery also – one stunning one in particular which occurs towards the end of the show. I hope you will be able to come back and see it again soon.

How do you feel about the changes in your character Marian for the show in comparison with Marian from the novel?

Lady Liza Elliott

The changes show Marion in a much more contemporary light. We had to adapt her character slightly to fit with the rest of the adaptation from novel to musical.

How did you get involved with The Woman in White?

Tracy

How did it happen that you had been cast as Marian? And are you happy to work with your sister?

Vladislav

When Andrew was writing the show, the role was written with me in mind. Sonia and I get along very well – I love working with her, she’s the best!

What attracted you to the character of Marian Halcombe?

Caroline Pankonen

The complexity of the role was a huge attraction, it is also a very vocally and emotionally challenging show, and at the same time there is a lot of humour in the part. Marian is also the first female detective, which makes Marion a great part to play.

What has been your funniest experience with Michael/Count Fosco either during rehearsals or during a performance? And, who was the instigator??

Lisa Brown

The funniest experience to date was when Michael fell backwards through the door and because he was in his fat suit, it took a while for him to get back up!

I’ve heard previously that Michael Crawford has played mice tricks on cast members in other shows, now has anything happened with the live mice/rats in The Woman in White that could be considered suspect?

Bonnie, Victoria, Australia

A mouse did escape once and came on stage for another scene, and the Stage Manager had to come and rescue it, otherwise it would’ve been squashed in the revolve when the scene changed!

What are your impressions from working with Michael Crawford and the rest of the cast?

Vladislav

What is it like working with Michael Crawford?

Irina

How do you feel to work with Mr. Michael Crawford on a stage?

Tatiana, Russia

What I want to ask you is do you enjoy working with Michael and the rest of the cast?

Sarah Law, 15, Sheffield

It’s great working with Michael. We have a great company spirit, which makes for a good working atmosphere.

Are you still nervous before you go on stage?

Sarah Law, 15, Sheffield

Yes, I do still get a bit nervous before going on stage.

What has it been like working with Jill Paice?

American Admirer

She’s a gorgeous girl and very talented.

Do you have a favourite scene in the musical?

Vladislav

No, every scene is varied, fun and challenging.

Do you have any idea until when you’ll be starring in The Woman in White?

Sarah

How long will you be remaining with the original cast of The Woman In White?

Tom Atkins

I will be in the show until the end of May 2005.

Have you tried Count Fosco’s bon bons?

Tom Atkins

I have two of Count Fosco’s bon bons every night!

What in your view was the most challenging area of The Woman in White for you and if not cast in the part you play so wonderfully, what part would you like to play?

Gary

Building up the stamina was a challenge, and the only other part I would want to play would be Count Fosco!

What has been your most enjoyable experience whilst working on The Woman in White?

Tom Atkins

The company spirit, everyone gets along so well.

How do you retain the intensity of a performance night after night?

Ed Turner, NORMAN Radio

As a performer you owe it to the audience to deliver a performance that is like a first night every night!

Could you expand further on your own feelings about “technique” and “communication” and what balance I should be aiming for as a singing student of Music Theatre?

James Church

Communicate from a truthful place. Never try too hard but work hard.

Have you a Character (possibly from a Sondheim show!) that you ‘dream’ to play?

James Church

Either Esmee from A little Night Music, or a character that he writes for me!

How did you get into performing and musical theatre, and what are the best and the worst parts of being in a show?

Rosie Larkins, 15, Leicestershire

The best part of being in a show is the camaraderie, and the audiences. The worst is the repetition, and working six nights a week, not being able to see enough of my family.

What inspired you to go into musical theater and how did you go about getting your first role?

Ann

I loved to sing.

What is YOUR all-time favourite musical (you don’t have to say Woman in White!)?

Adrian O’Dowd, London

Passion.

 

 

What part have you enjoyed playing the most in your career?

Adrian O’Dowd, London

Haylah in Ghetto.

Would you say that the role that you are currently playing in The Woman In White is more challenging than anything else you have already done? If not, what has been your most challenging role to date?

Jenny Antill

Fosca in Passion. This comes a very close second though.

 

 

Are there any roles/musicals that you would like to do that you have not yet done?

Sarah

Too many to list!!

I once heard you were considering appearing in a stage version of Yentl. Is this true and if so what happened to this project?

Russell Wilson

It was true; it would have been a great part to play however the funding dropped out.

There seems to be a trend at the moment for revisiting musicals of Broadway’s “golden age” – Anything Goes last year in London, Gypsy on Broadway. Are there any roles from such musicals that you would like to play? If so, which in particular?

Dominic

I would love to play Mama Rose in Gypsy.

I’d love to know if, after all you have achieved in the ‘Musical Theatre World’, you still have an ambition?

Lisa Ross, Glasgow

Yes lots, but I’m too superstitious to name them!

Will you be joining the Original Broadway Cast to re-create the role of Marian over in the states?

Tom Atkins 

Would you accept a proposal to do the role of Marian on Broadway next year?

 Vladislav

Absolutely. I think it would be a great thing to do.

Will the original London cast open the show on Broadway?

Karen

No, they will probably cast from the US.

Maria, would there be any difficulties with US Equity if your going to NYC with the show materialized?

Sally

No as we have two Americans in the London Production.

How do you find performing in front of a video set?

David

It did take a while to get used to it, but it was a challenge, but it is wonderful.

Do you have any advice for young people, like my self who would give anything to perform in Musicals professionally?

Andrew

Keep going, prepare and keep on singing. 

How you keep your immensely rich, beautiful voice in its current condition?

Lee-Anthony Price 

I make sure that I have a rest in the morning, once the children are up, I have an hours sleep, ready for the performance. 

Thank you Maria! 

Apologies to those who sent in questions, which were not answered here, but we ran out of time. Hopefully we will be able to have a further interview with Maria sometime soon.

Posted on: 1st November 2004

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