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.”