It wasn’t just a Von Trapp family affair at the London Palladium last night (3 March 2008, previews from 26 February) as Summer Strallen took over from How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? victor Connie Fisher as Maria in The Sound of Music at the London Palladium.

Strallen comes from sturdy showbusiness stock and her talented relatives were out in force including her uncle Paul Grunert (who’s actually in the cast with her, playing Max Detweiler), his wife/her aunt Bonnie Langford and several of her performer-sisters.

Strallen was also cheered on by a family of a different sort: the cast of Hollyoaks, the Channel 4 TV soap in which she was planted last year as a character named Summer Shaw, an aspiring West End actress who stalks Andrew Lloyd Webber until he casts her as the leading role in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Amongst the many Hollyoaks actors at last night’s opening were Zoe Lister, Chris Fountain, Gerard McCarthy and Carly Stenson. Lloyd Webber, who made his acting debut in the soap opera last month, also attended to applaud his new ‘discovery’.

Already familiar to theatregoers, Strallen’s previous West End credits include The Drowsy Chaperone and Wilson’s The Boy Friend, both of which earned her Laurence Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Award nominations, as well as Guys and Dolls, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cats and Scrooge.

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For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for The Sound of Music curtain call and backstage shots at the London Palladium and Studio Valbanne. The current cast also features Simon Burke (Captain von Trapp), Fiona Sinnott (the Baroness), Paul Grunert (Max), Amy Lennox (Liesl), Luke Fredericks (Rolf) and Margaret Preece (Mother Abbess).

The Sound of Music premiered on Broadway in 1959 and in London in 1961. The 1965 Hollywood film, which starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, won five Oscars, including Best Picture. The London revival 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. It’s presented by Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian, the Really Useful Group and Live Nation.

- by Terri Paddock