After a frenzied photocall, Fisher was all grins with journalists in the theatre bar when she exclaimed: “It’s much better than telesales!” More than 6,000 hopefuls auditioned for How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, the BBC casting programme to win the lead role of Maria Von Trapp in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1959 Broadway classic, which opens on 15 November 2006 (previews from 3 November). Last month, after eight weeks of live competition, the public voted Fisher the ultimate winner out of the ten finalists.
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Controversially, West End veteran Emma Williams, who had been hired as a Maria alternate, left the musical after Fisher declared her intention to perform all eight weekly performances (See News, 22 Sep 2006). Commenting on it today, Fisher said: “Of course I want to do eight full shows. I just want the role to be mine, I want to make it my own. All those people voted for me, I want them to go to the theatre and see the girl they voted for.”
While Fisher was initially wary about how her fellow company members might receive a reality TV winner, she said that “no one’s been less than 100% welcoming and accepting”. Her leading man Simon Shepherd, by her side today, certainly seemed so, declaring of Fisher: “They’ve got the right girl for the job, she’s going to be fantastic.”
Now, aside from worrying that “my nan (Nana Dot, who featured in the TV programme) may have a heart attack”, Fisher is feeling full of confidence rather than nerves. She’s aware that critics will be watching her performance closely but “apparently The Sound of Music has never had a good review, so that’s a relief because no one’s expecting one.”
“For an opportunity like this to come up in my favourite role of all time is amazing,” said Fisher. “I’m most looking forward to the curtain coming up on opening night.” While she’s initially contracted for six months, she’s got enough enthusiasm at the moment to stay on “forever”: “I know the show will run and run, I just hope it will run with me in it.”
For today’s photocall, Fisher joined Simon Shepherd (Captain Von Trapp), Sophie Bould (Liesel) and the show’s three sets of children, ranging from 6 to 14 years old: John McCrea (Friedrich), Christine Tucker (Louisa), Jack Montgomery (Kurt), Grace Vance (Brigitta), Yasmin Garrard (Marta) and Dora Gee (Gretl); Greg West (Friedrich), Poppy Friar (Louisa), Piers Stubbs (Kurt), Caroline Riley (Brigitta), Molly May Keston (Marta) and Lauren Downing (Gretl); and Joe Cooper (Friedrich), Georgia Russell (Louisa), Michael Parsons (Kurt), Olivia Gould (Brigitta), Emily Lane (Marta) and Alicia Gould/Adrianna Bertola (Gretl).
The Sound of Music is directed by Jeremy Sams, designed by Robert Jones and choreographed by Arlene Phillips. The cast also features soprano Lesley Garrett (Mother Abbess), Lauren Ward (Baroness), Ian Gelder (Max) and Neil McDermott (Rolf). The production is presented by Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian, the Really Useful Group and Live Nation.
- by Terri Paddock