Sunday, 31 August 2014

Where are they now? How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?

How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria maybe a song from the hit musical The Sound of Music, but it was also the title of the 2006 reality TV show which was Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian's search to find the next Maria for the new production that would play at the London Palladium. The show was hosted by Graham Norton with guest judges Zoe Tyler and John Barrowman, this was the first series that lead onto shows such as Any Dream Will Do (The search for Joseph), I'd Do Anything (The Search for Nancy) and Over the Rainbow (The search for Dorothy). Rival TV shows to this BBC produced series also came up in Superstar (The search for Jesus), Grease is the Word (The search for Danny and Sandy) and Fame: The musical (the search for Nick and Serena). If you are a theatre geek like me, you'll remember these TV shows! And if you don't, you'll certainly know some of the contestants. So, where are they now? 

Connie Fisher


After Winning the reality TV she went on to perform in the West End production of The Sound of Music from November 2006 until February 2008 where Summer Strallen took over the role and she also went on to reprise the role of Maria in the 2009 UK tour of the show. She has released two solo albums, My Favourite Things (2006) and Secret Love (2009). In 2012 she returned to the musical theatre stage to play Ruth in the UK tour of Wonderful Town as well as getting a regular role on Casualty. In 2015 BBC Four broadcast the documentary 'Connie: I Will Sing Again'. The film followed Connie on her emotional journey trying to recapture her singing voice, three years after retiring from public performance due to a congenital throat condition which affected her vocal chords. She is currently working for a production company as a Development Executive, Popular Factual & Factual Entertainment @Conniefisher1

Helena Blackman 

After coming in second on the TV programme, Helena has had a wonderful career in theatre. She has played Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady & Maria in The Sound of Music (Kilworth House); Elsa Schraeder in The Sound of Music (Bahrain Theatre Festival); Linda in Gay's The Word (Finborough Theatre); Lily/Rose in The Secret Garden (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Helen Fogel in Saturday Night (Arts Theatre); Nellie Forbush in South Pacific (UK Tour); Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (Leicester Haymarket); Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy (Millennium Centre, Cardiff); Anna in Bur First This (Watermill Theatre); Millie in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (UK tour); Blue Girl in Shout the Musical (Winter Garden Theatre, Blackpool); Caroline Neville in Titanic (Charing Cross Theatre) and most recently, the title role in The Snow Queen at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. @helenablackman

Siobhan Dillon 

After coming in third place on the show, Siobhan went on to play the role of Patty Simcox in the rival of Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre. She also understudied the roles of Marty and Sandy and later returned to the production to take over the role of Sandy. She took over the role of Sally Bowles in the UK tour of Cabaret in 2009 and reprised the role opposite Will Young in 2013. She also went on to play Vivienne in Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre) Claire in Ex (Soho Theatre) and Molly in Ghost (Piccadilly Theatre) and Ellen in Miss Saigon (Prince Edward Theatre). She went on to play Betty in Sunset Boulevard at the ENO opposite Glenn Close and transferred with the show over to New York, where she made her Broadway debut. She was most recently seen on our screens in the Netflix series, Grace and Frankie. @siobhandillonuk

Aoife Mulholland

After the reality programme, Aoife was cast as the alternate to Maria in the production at the London Palladium, playing the role twice a week with Fisher doing six. She also played Roxie in the musical Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre, she played the role in 2006 and 2008. She has also performed at the Royal Albert Hall in the concert version of Chess, starring Idina Menzel and Adam Pascal as well as originating the role of Brooke Wyndham in the London production of Legally Blonde. She now is a vocal coach in Ireland. @AoifeMulhollan1

Abi Finley

After the programme Abi went on to appear as Serena in FAME (UK Tour); Miranda in Betwixt! (the Kings Head Theatre); Queen Egathella in Sleeping Beauty (Oxford Playhouse); Molly Brown in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Landor Theatre); Mary Gallagher in First Lady Quite (Union Theatre); Peggy Ollerenshaw in Hi De Hi (UK Tour); Ensemble and first cover Shelia in HAIR (European Tour); Jewish Legacy (UK Tour); Merideth in Flames & Ellie Greenwich in Leader of the Pack (Waterloo East) and Martha in Super Ordinary (The Other Palace). She was most recently seen as Mrs Daring & Mermaid in Peter Pan at the Derby Arena. 

Leanne Dobinson 

Leanne has played Snow White opposite Marti Webb at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. After she went on to play Flo Simpson in Make Do And Mend at The Theatre Royal Nottingham. She made her West End debut as Cosette in Les Misérables at The Queens Theatre on 23 June 2008, where she remained until June 2009. @leanne_dobinson

Simona Armstrong

Since the programme she has made appearances TV shows such as A Touch of Frost, The Bill, Love Soup, Synchronicity, Doctors, Drifters and Flowers. In 2008 she was featured on the TV show Eurovision: Your Decision, hoping to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest. Simona reached the audience voting stages, but was not selected as one of the two finalists. She played the role of Maria in Lend Me A Tenor at The Vienna English Theatre, played Kamila in the UK tour of The Perfect Murder alongside Les Dennis and played The Woman With The Veil in What Shall We Do with the Cello? at the Atelier Theatre & ICR for London Vault Festival. 

Meliz Serman 

After Meliz was eliminated, she returned to London’s Guildhall to complete her Masters in classical music. 

Belinda Evans 


Belinda went into the cast of The Phantom of the Opera in London's West End as a swing after being eliminated from the show. She has since had a career performing in Operas, some of her credits since the show include Edith in The Pirates of Penzance (Charles Court Opera); Mimì in La bohème (Opera Up Close, Olivier Award-winning production); Micaela in Carmen (Opera Novella); Fiordiligi in Così fan Tutte (Savannah Philharmonic); Undine, in For the Love of Undine (Oops for theatre); Despina in Così fan tutee (Pavilion Opera); Celia in Iolanthe (Tarantara Productions) and Königin der Nacht in Die Zäuberflöte (Ark Education Project). Belinda was an Artist in Residence on Garsington Opera's Opera for All project - which aims to bring opera to isolated coastal communities. She has most recently been touring with Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra with whom she has been singing since 2018. @BelindaBeeEvans

Laura Sicurello
After the programme, she went into a one-year MA scholarship in musical theatre at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. She has been featured in many pantomimes, including Dick Whittington at the Greenwich Theatre in 2007, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 2009 and 2008. 

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