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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 to 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 that affected her vocal cords. She is currently working for a production company as a Development Executive, Popular Factual & Factual Entertainment. 

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), the title role in The Snow Queen (Rose Theatre, Kingston) and Vi In Footloose (Dubai). Helena appears in I Hate Suzie on Sky Atlantic as well as Pennyworth for Warner Horizon TV / Epix. 


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Wonderful Town the Musical: Theatre Review

Wonderful Town is based on the novel My Sister Eileen, which itself is based on a collection of short stories by Ruth McKenney. It was then made into a play, then a film, then the musical! The musical originally ran on Broadway in 1953 and closed the following year. A production then opened in London in 1955 and starred the likes of Shani Wallace and Sid James and a revival opened in 1986 at the Queens Theatre. A Broadway production opened in 2003 staring Donna Murphy (Later Brooke Shields) which earned her a Tony Award nomination.
Recently we saw the return of the show when it toured the UK, this production starred 'How do you solve a problem like Maria?' winner Connie Fisher.
Wonderful Town follows the story of two sisters, Eileen and Ruth both of which want to make it in New York. Ruth who is an aspiring journalist and Eileen who wants to be an Actress move into the city and end up having a very hard time, they can't seem to catch a break. Eileen uses her charm to try and help Ruth in her bid to become a professional journalist but that goes wrong as someone who claims to have been able to help was just using the situation to get to Eileen, the Marilyn Monroe type character.
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