Emma Thompson admits being frightened ahead of Sweeney Todd West End appearance

Actress returns alongside Bryn Terfel in her first West End play in 25 years

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The Independent Culture

Emma Thompson has admitted she has “never been so frightened” as returning to the stage earlier this year after more than two decades, and hopes she can beat the nausea when the show transfers to the West End.

The Oscar-winning actress starred alongside acclaimed opera singer Bryn Terfel in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in New York for five performances in March.

The pair will bring the show to the London Coliseum next spring for a run of 13 performances. It marks the first of the musical collaborations between the English National Opera and theatre producers Michael Grade and Michael Linnit.

Thompson said of playing Mrs Lovett in the Lincoln Center: “I’ve never been so frightened ever, I’m hoping for a slight improvement in London and what I mean by that is no actual nausea. If I can manage the fear without the nausea I would be really happy.”

She last performed in the West End in John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, directed by Judi Dench, in 1989. The production marked her debut at the Coliseum which she described as her “favourite theatre in London”.

The decision to return to the stage was prompted by her mother, who said she should not pass up the opportunity to work alongside Terfel.

“This is an extraordinary piece that I know very well because I’ve seen it many times and my great friend Imelda Staunton had just triumphed in it,” she said.

Yet she revealed jokingly that Staunton was not entirely convinced she could take on the role. “I said to Imelda last year: ‘What do you think, do you think I can manage it?’ She gave me a look and said: ‘If you start working on it now, you might be okay’. That was a year ago.”

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