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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
Lloyd Webber anger at 'fix' claim
Andrew Lloyd Webber with Connie Fisher
Fisher, said Lord Lloyd-Webber, had a set of "cast-iron lungs"
Theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber is considering taking legal action over press reports regarding his West End revival of The Sound of Music.

"I didn't think I would be looking at a major libel case," he told BBC One's Breakfast following claims his recent talent search programme was rigged.

Connie Fisher won How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? earlier this month.

"We had no idea who was going to win it," said Lord Lloyd-Webber, calling contrary claims "absolute nonsense".

"I don't see how you could fix it," he added. "I didn't know until three minutes before the end of the show."

Had there been any suggestion of duplicity, he said, "the BBC would have been down on me like a ton of bricks".

The BBC would have been down on me like a ton of bricks
Andrew Lloyd Webber

An article in Saturday's Independent newspaper referred to complaints made by two unsuccessful Maria contestants that Fisher was recording a CD before the final.

Lord Lloyd-Webber, however, said Fisher had been recording her own album, a project unrelated to the BBC's programme.

The Phantom of the Opera composer also rubbished claims that the departure of "alternate" Maria Emma Williams had been acrimonious.

Williams, who previously appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was contracted to share the role of Maria with the eventual winner.

Emma Williams
Emma Williams withdrew from The Sound of Music on Friday
Following Fisher's declaration that she wished to appear in every performance, however, she "withdrew her services" from the production.

"Emma said that under the circumstances, she didn't feel she wanted to stay," Lord Lloyd-Webber said in a subsequent interview with Radio Five Live.

Her departure, he said, had been "perfectly amicable".

Despite the speculation regarding his talent show's outcome, Lord Lloyd-Webber said he was considering a US version, potentially involving his own musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

"The reason Maria worked was we were really trying to do something new," he said.

"It's been fantastic for musical theatre in general."

The Sound of Music opens at the London Palladium in November.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Lloyd Webber responds to papers' Maria allegations



SEE ALSO
'Alternate' Maria quits musical
22 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Lloyd Webber defends Maria plans
18 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Connie wins Maria talent contest
17 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
London faces fresh musical wave
15 Sep 06 |  Entertainment

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