Sonia Friedman on pandemic theatre: ‘It’s a bloodbath’

17 January 2022


The most powerful woman in theatre and the super producer behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is angry — the pandemic is ravaging her life’s work and she says the government is standing by… 

Sunday Times - Interview with Sonia Friedman:
By Kirsty Lang

Sunday January 09 2022, 12.01am, The Sunday Times

Sonia Friedman hasn’t stopped since she left school at 16 for a job backstage, winning 58 Olivier awards and 34 Tonys on her rags to riches way to the top. If all goes to plan, the super-producer’s blockbuster openings this year include Mark Rylance reprising his role in Jerusalem in the West End and Funny Girl on Broadway.

Friedman, though, has not had a happy new year. In the past three weeks she has had to cancel 158 performances and lost more than £4 million. Omicron has rolled inexorably through the West End like a tsunami. The new variant could not have arrived at a worse time. The Christmas period is when theatre companies build up their reserves. A pantomime can account for 40 per cent of a regional theatre’s annual box-office income. “It’s a bloodbath and it’s chaotic,” Friedman says. “We are seeing drops in our box office of between 25 and 50 per cent. There’s fear, despair and confusion all round.”


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