The North American premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian's new London production of The Sound of Music will cast its leading lady through a new CBC television program called (as it was in London), "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?"
(The gimmick would inspire a 2007 U.S. casting series, "Grease: You're the One That I Want," which cast the leads in the current Ian-produced Broadway staging of Grease.)
Canadian viewers will cast the role of plucky Maria von Trapp in the new production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, The Sound of Music, which will premiere at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre in September 2008.
The production will be part of the 2008-09 Mirvish subscription series in Toronto. Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian and David Mirvish will present the North American premiere of the new staging.
The national primetime television series will air on CBC Television in the spring 2008. Auditions for the television series will begin in February 2008 across Canada and will culminate in an eight-part series to be telecast in the summer of 2008. "The people's choice for Maria will immediately join rehearsals for the stage production," according to production notes. "The rest of the production will be cast from the finest theatrical talent Canada has to offer."
The BBC-TV program "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" became the highest-rated of its kind in the broadcaster's history, the producers said. The production at the London Palladium set box-office records and made a star of Connie Fisher — the young woman who was chosen by the British public to star as Maria, a role created by Mary Martin on stage and by Julie Andrews on film.
"The stage and television show's producers will travel across Canada in the coming months conducting open auditions for the role," according to a Mirvish statement. "Auditions will be open to anyone who feels they can master the role. The producers will house hopeful Marias from all over Canada in one place and put them through a rigorous audition, training and evaluation process. After each show, a panel of judges, and ultimately the voting Canadian viewers, will determine who will win the coveted role."
This 1959 musical by R&H and book writers Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse will be overseen in Canada by director Jeremy Sams, choreographer Arlene Philips and designer Robert Jones, who created the recent London production.
Suggested by "The Trapp Family Singers" by Maria Augusta Trapp, the beloved musical was made into a smash film that won five Academy Awards,including Best Picture in 1965.
For more information visit www.soundofmusiccanada.com and www.cbc.ca/maria.