BWW Exclusive Q&A: Michael Crawford Talks Return to the Stage
Juggling both film and stage careers, Michael Crawford had established himself as one of theatre's finest leading men long before he opened as "the Phantom" in Andrew Lloyd Webber's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, beginning one of the most widely acclaimed and memorable performances in theatre history. Few stars are as widely connected to a single role as Crawford is to "the Phantom." His Los Angeles and Broadway performances earned an astonishing catalogue of critical recognition including the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and the Los Angeles Dramalogue Award and Drama Critics Award.
Since leaving PHANTOM after nearly four years in the role in London, New York and Los Angeles Crawford has become a multi-platinum recording artist and one of the world's most sought after concert and stage performers, playing to sold-out venues around the globe. In addition to his recent concert work, stage credits in London and on Broadway include Billy, Flowers for Algernon, Black Comedy, Dance of the Vampires, The Woman in White, and Barnum.
It was announced late last night that he will make his eagerly awaited return to the stage alongside Danielle Hope, winner of the BBC's smash hit Over The Rainbow, when the show opens at the London Palladium next year. We checked in with the star to get the first scoop!
The first question is of course -- how did all of this come about?
Andrew (Lloyd Webber) had the idea about my being involved about 6 months ago he tells me and then I heard about 2 months ago from him about it. At the time, I was away traveling around Europe with my family and when I got back about 3 weeks ago, I started having some initial meetings with Andrew and the creative team. We talked about it and I became more and more intrigued and I also refreshed my memory and re-watched the movie which was so, so great.
So, it became more and more intriguing to me and then I met the director Jeremy Sams and got along very well with him and I also met with Bill Kenwright, who is the other producer, and they were all very good and very constructive meetings.
And what intrigued you about the project so much?
It was very exciting to just see what the conversion to the stage would be and understanding that. Really, Dorothy is the star of the show and I'll play one of the hopefully supportive and important sidekicks, who is also important to the story. I think that there are six roles all on the side of being 'equal' in terms of performance - the two Witches, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and of course the Wizard. They're all important characters to support the story.
Also, the design and the staging look very exciting. It's of course a long way to go to the stage -- a long, yellow brick road - but there's a lot of effort and a lot of creative juices flowing...
I've heard one new song that Andrew has added to it for me and Tim has written the lyrics for and I liked that very much. Hopefully I'll be singing it with Danielle (Dorothy) who has a lovely voice and she is very gifted.
How much time have you gotten to spend with her so far?
We did that photo together, before the deal was set... I was leaving London, so we met to take the picture, with the hope that we'd then finalize the deal (which we did). She had been up and working since 6am that day, taking ballet class and she's a very dedicated young girl.
Will the part of the Wizard be changed or expanded from the film? Will you be popping up as he did on screen throughout the show?