Down the Zoom call from the converted East End pub that is her home, Sonia Friedman’s voice starts to falter, then choke, then stop altogether. “I haven’t coped well,” she says. “I’m not ashamed to say it. We should own up to our mental health challenges.”
To be honest, I’m shocked. I always think of Friedman, 55, as the toughest theater producer in the West End, if not the world. After all, she’s the woman whose drive, vision and determination turned Harry Potter into six hours of breathtaking stage spectacle; whose 160 shows have harvested 58 Olivier awards and 30 Tonys; and who has nurtured everything from searing new drama to Shakespeare (Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet was hers), brilliant comedies and joyous musicals.