Maria’s Helena Bags Gypsy Role at Musicals FestDate: 22 September 2006
Less than a week after the conclusion of How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?, the BBC One casting programme to find a new Maria Von Trapp for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s upcoming West end production of The Sound of Music, runner-up Helena Blackman (pictured in the BBC programme) has won a starring stage role of her own. She’ll play Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy, which will headline this year’s Cardiff International Festival of Musical Theatre with a one-off performance at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 29 October 2006.
Lloyd Webber, who was the final ‘phantom’ judge in the BBC programme and who is a patron of the festival, commented: “I'm delighted that the hugely talented Helena is performing the role of Gypsy Rose Lee. This girl has a great future and like everyone I am going to follow her career with great interest”.
How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria? executive producer Kevin Bishop added: “This is such an exciting opportunity for Helena. She has worked so hard throughout the series and really deserves this amazing break. It is wonderful to think that the programme will have helped so many people get such an amazing start in the world of musical theatre”.
Blackman made into the final two of the TV competition but lost out in last Saturday’s live final to Connie Fisher who, following today’s withdrawal of seasoned West End performer Emma Williams as the Maria alternate, is now scheduled to perform in all eight weekly performances of The Sound of Music (See Today’s Other News). Blackman, 23, trained at the Guildford School of Acting.
Gypsy tells the story of the American burlesque stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. Her ambitious stage mother, Mama Rose, is determined that her two daughters will become stars and so she sets out to find fame and fortune for them. The show features songs such as “Let Me Entertain You”, “Some People” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”. The 1959 Broadway musical has music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents.
The semi-staged Cardiff production, which marks the musical’s first major UK performance in 25 years, will also feature Julia McKenzie (most recently seen in the West End in The Philadelphia Story at the Old Vic) as Mazeppa. Further casting has yet be announced. Stewart Mackintosh will conduct the production, presented jointly by the Cardiff International Festival of Musical Theatre and the Wales Millennium Centre.
- by Terri Paddock