A TICKET TO THE BIG TIME FOR ONE MARIA
-Ten compete to star in Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of The Sound of Music-
The Any Dream Will Do team of legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, Graham Norton (The Graham Norton Show) and John Barrowman (Torchwood) return to BBC AMERICA in the premiere of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? From all across the UK, thousands of talented singers and actresses audition in hopes of becoming the UK's next leading lady, Maria, in the musical The Sound of Music. How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? premieres with a one hour episode, Sunday, June 7, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. All seven subsequent episodes are two hours long and air Sundays, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.
From the open auditions across the UK, 55 are chosen by the judges to attend �Maria School' where their vocal skills and acting ability are thoroughly tested. 20 contestants are then chosen to perform in front of Andrew and a host of his celebrity friends at his country mansion. Ten survive the ordeal and are allowed through to the studio heats where, over the following weeks, the British public vote for their favorite. Sitting at the judges table are Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Barrowman, theatre producer David Ian and vocal coach Zo� Tyler.
Each week, the two with the lowest number of votes perform in front of Andew Lloyd Webber in the hope he'll use his saving vote to give them one more chance. Three of them make it to the final where they perform a range of classic songs from The Sound of Music as well as other musical favorites from famed composers Rogers and Hammerstein. The hills come alive in the world of musical theatre as the next Maria is chosen and goes on to star in the West End's production of The Sound of Music.
How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria won an International Emmy in 2007, has just been nominated for a Banff World Television Award and was picked up as a local format by the CBC in Canada.
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MEET THE TEN MARIA FINALISTS
Born and raised in Romania, Simona Armstrong wants a career as an actress. Trained at the prestigious Bucharest Academy, she's got a musical background - her mother and sister sing and her grandmother was an actress. Simona's family is still in Romania, she misses them a lot but "her greatest support" is husband Ian. Her favorite musical is Little Shop of Horrors.
Meliz Serman plays violin and piano and was classically trained. She's been writing songs since she was four, and her dream is to write a successful West End musical. She loves �60s American soul music and admires Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin. Her favorite musicals are Grease, Mary Poppins, The Phantom of the Opera, Moulin Rouge - and The Sound of Music, of course.
Leanne Dobinson has been singing since she was young. She's had no formal training, but taught herself to sing in Italian, French, German and Latin after borrowing some CDs from the library. Her favorite musicals are The Phantom of the Opera, The Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady.
Laura Sicurello, an Intelligence Officer for Thames Valley Police, has had singing lessons for two years. Laura's family have always told her she should be a performer for a living, but she's never believed in herself. Her favorite musical is Miss Saigon.
Belinda Evans earned a Masters Degree in Music from the Welsh College of Music and has worked as a singer for the last four years. She's appeared as a chorus member in Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of The Magic Flute and sung a solo for the Queen. Her favorite musical is West Side Story.
Aoife (pronounced ee-fah) Mulholland studied for a Masters in Acting and Musical Theatre at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. Her favorite singers are Aretha Franklin, Lauren Hill and Erykah Badu. The first amateur musical Aoife starred in was The Sound Of Music�she played Brigitta and her brother played Fredrick. But she loves Les Miserables best of all.
Abi Finley also studied for a Masters in Acting and Musical Theatre at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. Her two biggest inspirations are Barbara Streisand and her mum, Deborah, who performed when she was pregnant with Abi. Her favorite musicals are The Sound of Music, Billy Elliot, Ragtime, Into the Woods, and Sunset Boulevard.
Siobhan Dillon attends the London College of Fashion. For her 10th birthday present, she got singing lessons and her talent progressed from there. Her musical tastes range from John Denver to Massive Attack�but Shania Twain will always be her idol. Her favorite musicals are Starlight Express and Blood Brothers.
A professional actress and singer, Helena Blackman has been classically trained since she was 12. Recently she worked at Disney in Tokyo, performing medleys of musical theater songs. Her favorite musicals are The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Carousel, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music.
Connie Fisher was a member of the National Youth Theatre and attended countless West End auditions, always getting down to the final two but never getting the part. Her musical theatre heroes are Julie Andrews and Ruthie Henshall and her favorite modern musicals are Songs For A New World and Avenue Q.
MEET THE JUDGES
Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard, Whistle Down the Wind among many others. He also composed the film scores for Gumshoe and The Odessa File, and a setting of the Latin Requiem Mass. He has won seven Tony awards, three Grammys, the Kennedy Center Honor and was knighted in 1992.
John Barrowman has become a household name following his role as Captain Jack, first in Doctor Who and most recently in BBC AMERICA's top rated series, Torchwood. He has also been a stalwart leading actor in musical theatre throughout his career and has released several albums.
David Ian was recently named the most powerful person in British theater by The Stage newspaper, being one of the most prolific producers in the UK. His hits include some of the best-loved and most talked about productions of the last 20 years including Guys and Dolls, The King and I, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Anything Goes and The Producers.
Zoe Tyler is the expert vocal coach who knows what the role of Maria truly requires�a voice that will hit every note and stand out from the crowd. Her own career on the West End began at the age of 20 when she appeared in Les Miserables. She went on to join Jesus Christ Superstar on tour, which was followed by the award-winning City of Angels in which she was part of the jazz singing quartet. She is also a seasoned soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Director/Producer Katy Mullan
Executive Producer Ruth Wrigley
How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? is a BBC production in association with The Really Useful Group and DPI Production.