Crawford will co-star with West End stage actress Maria Friedman in Woman in White — based on Wilkie Collins' classic mystery — which begins previews August 28 at London's Palace Theatre. Crawford will play the Italian villain Count Fosco opposite Friedman's Marian. Friedman, who recently made her U.S. debut at the Cafe Carlyle, picked up her third Olivier Award this year for her performance as Mother in the West End mounting of Ragtime.
Anne Hathaway ("The Princess Diaries"), who took part in a workshop of the musical, is also expected to be part of the company, although her casting has yet to be confirmed. In a statement composer Lloyd Webber said, "I am delighted that Michael has accepted the delicious role of Count Fosco, a character of overpowering charisma and integrity, and one of the best villains in Victorian fiction. It is fantastic that we have lured such a great international star back to the West End where he belongs."
According to production notes, A Woman in White concerns "a dashing young man, employed as the art tutor to two devoted sisters, [who] is stranded at a remote railway cutting. Out of the darkness looms a woman, a mysterious figure dressed in white, desperate to share a chilling secret. He and the sisters soon find themselves trapped in a web of betrayal and greed, the victims of a seemingly flawless crime."
Michael Crawford was last on Broadway as Count von Krolock in the short lived musical Dance of the Vampires. He won Tony and Olivier awards for his work in the title role of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. He also received an Olivier for his performance in the London production of Barnum, and his screen credits include "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "How I Won the War" and "Hello, Dolly!" Crawford's solo recordings are numerous and include "Michael Crawford Performs Andrew Lloyd Webber," "A Touch of Music in the Night," "On Eagle's Wings," "Michael Crawford in Concert" and "Songs from the Stage and Screen."
Maria Friedman won Olivier Awards for her one-woman show, Maria Friedman—By Special Arrangement, and for her work as Fosca in the London production of Sondheim's Passion. She received Olivier nominations for her roles as Dot in Sunday in the Park with George and Roxie in Chicago and an Evening Standard Award for her performance in the Royal National Theatre's production of Lady in the Dark. Friedman's other stage credits include Blues in the Night, April in Paris, Break of Day, Square Rounds, The Witches of Eastwick and Ragtime. She can also be seen as the Narrator in the film video of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The Woman in White officially opens Sept. 15, 2004. Directed by Trevor Nunn, the musical features lyrics by David Zippel, a book by Charlotte Jones and designs by William Dudley. For more information visit www.womaninwhitethemusical.com.