Musical star Michael Crawford has told how he overcaMe chronic fatigue syndrome to make his comeback in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Wizard Of Oz revamp.
The British singer/actor returned to London's West End in the new production on Monday (07Feb11) after five years away from the spotlight battling myalgic encephalopathy (ME).
Crawford was forced to leave the theatre in 2005 after collapsing during a performance of The Woman In White. He was subsequently diagnosed with the debilitating disorder, which leaves patients feeling physically and mentally exhausted.
He admits he feared the worst for his career when he began feeling tired at four in the afternoon every day.
Crawford tells Britain's Evening Standard, "I did think my career was over. I had no idea if I was going to get better or not. It was inexplicable. I kept trying everything - I changed my diet, tried different herbs, but it really came down to not putting pressure on my life.
"I moved out to New Zealand to live as I thought the warmth and peace and quiet would help me. I went away and changed my whole life routine. I took the pressure off, and when I was tired I just stopped. I was lucky as that is something you can't really do in every day life."
The relaxed lifestyle Crawford adopted while fishing and playing with his grandkids has given him new energy, and he now feels ready to tackle his six-month stint in the Wizard of Oz.
He adds, "I had to think for a long time over this offer. In the end I felt it was too good to turn down.
"It's not a massive role, but I'm quite happy doing this, and I will see how it goes. I really didn't realise until I got back the work that goes into a performance. You're like an athlete - if you haven't been practising things tighten up. I had to do a lot of practice work, but I got through it... It's been so far so good."