From The Mail on Sunday, 16 January 2011 (Story by Michael Crawford as told to Daphne Lockyer)
In a long interview with a Daily Mail reporter, the actor Michael Crawford describes his return to the West End stage after six years to join the new production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and his encounter with ME:
When the curtain rises on the first night of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production The Wizard Of Oz, there will be no one more bewitched and beguiled by the magic of theatre and of finding themselves on stage once more than the actor playing the Wizard himself. That’s yours truly, of course.
Six years ago, even a magic wand and a book of spells would not have been enough to get me back on my feet and appearing once more at the London Palladium, a theatre that holds so many wonderful memories for me.
At that time, I had just left another of Andrew’s productions, The Woman In White, due to ill health. For four months I had played the obese Count Fosco in a fat suit: a costume that had been my own clever idea. Unfortunately.
Night after night on stage, the suit meant that I’d sweat profusely, to the point where I was losing all the essential minerals and nutrients from my body. In January 2005, I went into a kind of physical meltdown. I collapsed with what I thought was flu, but it turned out to be something much more difficult to diagnose.
Teams of doctors were called in to try to find out why I was so completely exhausted, depleted and unable to return to work. I had brain and body scans, and virtually every test known to man before eventually discovering that I was suffering from the post-viral condition myalgic encephalopathy (ME).