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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 01:42 GMT
Webber plants Hollyoaks actress
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber is blurring fact with fiction
Theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber has revealed how he planted his next stage star on Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks.

For three months, viewers have seen Summer Shaw, played by Summer Strallen, pursue her dream of West End stardom.

In reality Lord Lloyd-Webber had already decided to cast Strallen as Maria in The Sound of Music.

He said Channel 4 producers approached him with the idea. "I thought: 'Do you know what, it's never been done before and it's funny.'"

The proposal initially came from Coronation Street producer Tony Wood. But Lord Lloyd-Webber turned him down, until Wood moved to Hollyoaks and the idea was revived.

Strallen was cast as the replacement for How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? winner Connie Fisher six months ago.

The 23-year-old then entered Hollyoaks in October.

Talent search

Her storyline peaks after as she meets Lord Lloyd-Webber during Friday's show, after which he gives her the role.

Summer Strallen
Summer Strallen is the niece of performer Bonnie Langford

Lord Lloyd-Webber appears in three episodes but is less-than confident of his own acting skills.

"I have an 11-year-old daughter who watches Hollyoaks with her friends, and she's going to be very embarrassed," he said.

Strallen has a performing background, having appeared in Cats, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Guys And Dolls.

But like many of Lord Lloyd-Webber's recent cast members, including Fisher and Lee Mead, she has now had TV exposure before taking a lead role.

Lord Lloyd-Webber denied such exposure was necessary: "You can only do a TV search with a few shows. The audience have to be already familiar with the story and the music.

"I'm putting on a sequel to Phantom Of The Opera and I very, very much doubt we'll be casting Phantom through TV."

Nevertheless, he will appear in new BBC talent show, I'd Do Anything, in search of two new stars for the musical Oliver later this year.

SEE ALSO
Lloyd Webber lands TV acting role
20 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Lloyd Webber's Saturday night fever
24 May 07 |  Entertainment
Lloyd Webber fortune keeps rising
27 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
Connie wins Maria talent contest
17 Sep 06 |  Entertainment

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