Lloyd Webber Solves Maria Problem – Again

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04 Jan 2008

Summer Strallen as Summer Shaw
Summer Strallen as Summer Shaw
Photo by Channel 4
Summer Strallen will succeed Connie Fisher as Maria von Trapp in the Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced London production of The Sound of Music.
The cast change, which according to the Daily Mail, will take place Feb. 25, is part of another Lloyd Webber television tie-in.

Instead of a reality television talent show, Strallen has been appearing in the TV series "Hollyoaks" in which she plays an aspiring actress. Later this month, the plot will see Lloyd Webber appear as himself for three episodes during which he "discovers" Strallen's character (called Summer Shaw) and casts her as the lead in The Sound of Music.

With the reality TV show "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria," which discovered Connie Fisher, Lloyd Webber and the BBC spawned the reality show format that led to "Any Dream Will Do," which found Lee Mead for the role of Joseph in the current revival of Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. That show went head-to-head with David Ian's "Grease Is the Word" on ITV — that TV program led to Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden being cast in the current West End stage revival of Grease.

In the meantime, plans are going ahead for Lloyd Webber to collaborate with the BBC – as judge, not producer - on a third casting program for a revival of Lionel Bart's musical Oliver!

Cameron Macintosh will be the producer for that stage revival. The BBC reality show, however, will only be looking for performers to play the roles of Nancy and Oliver. The TV show was also going to audition hopefuls for the role of the Artful Dodger, but that idea has now been dropped.

Strallen, whose stage credits include Guys & Dolls and The Boyfriend, was last seen on the West End stage in the ill-fated West End version of The Drowsy Chaperone, which proved to be far less popular in London than it did in New York.