Sonia Friedman, who is considered one of the most dedicated and creative forces in theatre, had an incredible 2016. Dreamgirls, Funnygirl and Nice Fish are among her most recent productions in the West End; none of them considered sure-fire hits. Sonia Friedman Productions seems to hit on a winning formula.
Nothing exemplifies the attention to detail, the money she is prepared to spend on development, and the tremendous results her team accomplish, than her 2014 production of Shakespeare In Love. Every moment of the play screamed quality. And like many of her productions she had a major hand in every step of it’s evolution.
Sonia Friedman, unlike many producers who favour big budget musical revivals as the most likely route to theatrical success, will take on straight plays and musicals, and has even branched out into television. She seems to relish adaptation, which must surely be the most difficult type of project to stage. Assembling the right team, pitching the right budget level, and changing a piece’s genre are just a few of the potential, fatal pitfalls.
If you speak to any of her very loyal staff you quickly get the sense that Sonia Friedman not only earns all of her successes through hard work and collaboration, but she also steers the ship, and has garnered a great deal of respect and support from within an industry that is not necessarily known for solidarity among its high-achievers.
Recently, Sonia Friedman was declared the most influential player in UK theatre in 2016, to which she responded, “This is an amazing recognition of the extraordinary people I have been privileged to work with over the year, and also of my sensational team at SFP who helped me produce / co produce and develop over 20 shows in 2016 and who are already preparing for an even busier 2017.”
You read that correctly. Sonia Friedman productions was involved in over 20 productions in 2016. One of them was no less that Harry Potter And The Cursed Child. Some producers would have spent all of 2016 working on that alone.
I would like to recognise the substantial contribution that Sonia Friedman and her team have made to the world of theatre. We would also particularly like to celebrate the continued emergence of a woman, who has put more than a crack in the glass ceiling, and sets a stellar example to emerging female talent, inside and outside the theatre fraternity. Brava!
Photos: Jason Alden