Best bud­dies Anita and Maria unite for a match made in heaven

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MARIA FRIEDMAN said she had no choice: her sis­ter, the su­per­star pro­ducer So­nia Friedman, in­sisted she go to see Trevor Nunn’s sub­lime pro­duc­tion of Fid­dler On The Roof, which trans­ferred from the Me­nier Choco­late Fac­tory to the Play­house in Lon­don’s West End.

‘So­nia said: “Just do it!”’ Maria re­called.

‘I’ve been mas­sively busy, but I did as I was told.’

She agreed with her sib­ling that it’s ‘a beau­ti­ful pro­duc­tion’. And then she was of­fered a job in it.

Maria, a three-time Olivier award-win­ning ac­tress, will take over the part of Tevye’s wife Golde from Amer­i­can ac­tress Judy Kuhn. Anita Dob­son, com­ing straight off a tour of Annie, will play Yente the match­maker (tak­ing over from Louise Gold).

Both will be at the Play­house from June 18, join­ing lead­ing man Andy Ny­man (on top form) as Tevye, the dairy­man who wants to see his five daugh­ters marry with a sense of tra­di­tion — the topic of one of the show’s hit num­bers.

Tevye, his fam­ily and fel­low Rus­sian vil­lagers are per­se­cuted by the au­thor­i­ties. It’s a story that’s still sadly res­o­nant. As I left the Play­house last Satur­day night, I turned my phone on to learn of the shoot­ing at a sy­n­a­gogue in Cal­i­for­nia.

Friedman’s father, the late, cel­e­brated vi­o­lin­ist Leonard Friedman, was born here but had Rus­sian fore­bears on both sides. (‘He’s still the youngest gold medal­list at Guild­hall,’ Friedman said, proudly, of her dad.)

She and Dob­son have been friends for years. They were both raised in East Lon­don, but didn’t know each other grow­ing up.

But Friedman said when she was in Blues In The Night, in the West End, Dob­son would visit. ‘She’d be with Brian [May] and Fred­die Mercury.’

The pair worked to­gether at the Royal Court in Tim­ber­lake Werten­baker’s play The Break Of Day, and toured in The Three Sis­ters.

Dob­son fin­ished her run in Annie last week­end, but in­stead of a well-de­served break said yes to Fid­dler be­cause of the chance to work with Friedman — and be­cause she has a soft spot for match­mak­ers.

‘I played Dolly in Hello, Dolly! and she was a match­maker. I like the idea of match­mak­ers,’ she joked.

The show will work to their strengths. ‘Maria is a singer who has the most beau­ti­ful voice,’ Anita said. ‘I’m an ac­tress who can sing.’

Dob­son pro­vided one of the high­lights of my year so far — see­ing her with May at the Os­cars was pretty cool.

Fid­dler stars: Dob­son, top, and Friedman

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