Australian-born actor Simon Burke (pictured) will star as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music at the London Palladium from 24 September, taking over the role currently being played by Alexander Hanson who leaves the production at the end of his contract. Burke will be the third Captain Von Trapp the production has seen after original cast member Simon Shepherd, who withdrew from performances during previews (See News, 6 Nov 2006), and Hanson.

Burke has performed extensively in his home country with the Nimrod and Sydney theatre companies and is already an experienced musical theatre veteran, having played roles such as Marius in the original Australian cast of Les Misérables, Bill Crocker in Anything Goes (for which he received a 1990 Green Room Award Best Actor in a Musical), Billy Flynn in Chicago, Clifford in Cabaret, Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music at the National and Raoul in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera among other stage credits, as well as numerous television and film appearances.

He will join a cast featuring Connie Fisher, winner of TV’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, who stars as Maria for six performances a week and runner-up Aoife Mulholland playing the lead role on Monday evenings and Wednesday matinees. The current London cast includes Margaret Preece (Mother Abbess), Lauren Ward (the Baroness), Ian Gelder (Max), Sophie Bould (Liesl) and Neil McDermott (Rolf).

The Sound of Music 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, both productions having record-breaking runs. The 1965 Hollywood film, which starred Julie Andrews and 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. The production is currently booking until 29 March 2008.

- by Tom Atkins