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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 April 2006, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Wannabe Marias get into the habit
'Maria' audition held in Belfast
The search for the new Maria von Trapp began in Belfast
As one of The Sound of Music's best-loved tunes put it, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Producers of a new West End version of the show are hoping to do just that by auditioning would-be Marias to recreate the role of nun-cum-governess played by Julie Andrews in the 1960s film.

Auditions are underway at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium for a BBC 1 TV show following the search for a star.

Graham Norton will host How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? from July.

They weren't all girls - we had one boy in Belfast
The BBC's Kevin Bishop on the auditions

Millennium Stadium auditions will continue from 0930 to 1700 BST on Saturday and Sunday, and organisers say they are confident they will find a "star out there".

The hopefuls will aim to put their own stamp on the real-life story of the young nun who becomes governess to Captain von Trapp's unruly children in pre-war Austria.

Last weekend would-be Marias were auditioned in Belfast and Kevin Bishop from BBC Television entertainment events said almost everyone who turned up had "some kind of talent".

Graham Norton
Graham Norton says it will be a rollercoaster for everyone involved

"We were quite amazed by the standard," Mr Bishop told BBC Radio Wales.

"And they weren't all girls - we had one boy in Belfast".

Hopefuls at the Cardiff audition are being asked to sing a few lines of a Sound of Music song.

If they get through to the next round, the competitors will perform two songs of their own choice.

A panel of experts in the music and theatre will whittle all the hopefuls down to 50 potential Marias and they will be given singing, acting and dancing tuition by professionals - but only 10 will make it through to the live shows.

'Amazing talent'

The eventual winner of the TV series will be voted for by the public in the series, to be screened from July to September.

They will go on to star as Maria in a big-budget London stage production of the musical, with a possible foothold on the ladder to international stardom.

The idea for the TV hunt came from Andrew Lloyd-Webber, whose West End productions include Cats, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera.

Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music
Producers say they want a young star for Julie Andrews' role

"He called in at an audition in Ireland for The Beautiful Game which was a show which he was producing at the time in London," explained Mr Bishop.

"He saw this girl who had been rejected by the casting director. He just thought she had an amazing talent.

"He encouraged her and brought her to London and she went on to sing at the 9/11 tribute concert in New York. She then starred in The Beautiful Game in London is currently starring in Les Mis.

"It's a great story and the fact that in Andrew's new production of The Sound of Music he wanted Maria to be young because the original Maria was in her early twenties."

Auditions for Maria will also take place in Edinburgh, London and Manchester.




SEE ALSO:
TV hunt for Sound of Music lead
28 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Sound of Music director Wise dies
15 Sep 05 |  Entertainment
The Sound of Music is coming home
22 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
Slow start for Norton's Picture
02 Aug 05 |  Entertainment


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