Aoife Mulholland (pictured) lost out to Connie Fisher in last year’s How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, but the ‘Irish Maria’ will soon be sharing the role of the nun-turned-nanny with her one-time adversary. From 9 April 2007, Mulholland will play Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music on Monday evenings and Wednesday matinees at the West End’s London Palladium, with Fisher appearing in the other six performances each week.

Fisher returns tonight to the production following a fortnight’s medical absence from 5 to 17 March 2007 (See News, 6 Mar 2007), but has been advised by doctors that she should limit her weekly schedule to six performances rather than the full eight. Until Mulholland’s arrival next month, the Monday evening and Wednesday matinee shows will be headed by Fisher’s understudy Sophie Bould, who has been appearing in her absence and who usually plays eldest von Trapp daughter, Liesl.

Mulholland is currently in the West End starring as Roxie Hart opposite Tony Hadley in Kander and Ebb’s Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre (See News, 5 Jan 2007). In last summer’s reality TV hit, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, which was named Theatre Event of the Year in the audience-voted Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, Mulholland made it down to the final four contestants in the live BBC semi-final .

Commenting on his two leading ladies, the musical’s producer Andrew Lloyd Webber said today: “I am thrilled that Connie has returned to the show, fit and well, and welcome Aoife, who gave a sensational audition.”

In the Awards, The Sound of Music also won Best Musical Revival and London Newcomer of the Year for Fisher. The production also currently stars Alexander Hanson as Captain von Trapp, soprano Lesley Garrett as the Mother Abbess and Ian Gelder as Max as well as Lauren Ward as the Baroness, Neil McDermott as Rolf and three teams of children.

The production – which opened on 15 November 2006 (previews from 3 November) and is currently taking bookings until 13 October 2007 - is directed by Jeremy Sams and designed by Robert Jones, with choreography by Arlene Phillips, sound by Mick Potter, lighting by Mark Henderson and musical supervision by Simon Lee.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical premiered on Broadway in 1959, when it won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show first opened in London in 1961 and its last London revival was in 1981. The Sound of Music is presented by Lloyd Webber and David Ian, the Really Useful Group and Live Nation.

- by Terri Paddock