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Lisburn born Connie Fisher solves the problem of Maria

Alexander Hanson (Captain von Trapp), Sophie Bould (Liesl) and Connie Fisher (Maria Rainer) pictured at the Opening Night of The Sound of Music at the London Palladium on Wednesday 15th November.

Connie Fisher solved the problem of Maria by proving that there is nun better for the leading role of Maria Rainer in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Sound of Music, which opened at the London Palladium on Wednesday 15th November 2006.

Last Friday’s Evening Standard reported that 23 year-old Connie was born in Lisburn, the daughter of a major in the Army Signal Corps. She lost her twin brother a couple of hours after she was born and was brought up an only child in Blandford in Dorset and describes her childhood as “extremely happy”. When she was six, the family moved to live on her grandparents’ farm in Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, where most people spoke Welsh as their first language. The English girl who had learned Welsh took singing lessons, sang in the choir every Saturday night and in concerts every Sunday, and began to hatch the idea of going to drama school. Then, when she was 17, the family fell apart when her father left her mother and started another family. Connie’s boyfriend, Neal, like her father, is a soldier in the Signal Corps. After graduation she worked as a waitress at Pizza Express and auditioned for musical theatre. After finally winning a part in panto at Milford Haven, she took a telesales job. “It was hell, I earning £150 a week,” she said. She trained at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and was awarded the Gyearbuor Asante for acting at her graduation in 2005. Whilst training, her theatre credits included: Nine, Carousel, Jerry’s Girls, A... My Name Is Alice, Twelfth Night, Vinegar Tom, Annie Get Your Gun and Roots. She won the Welsh Musical Theatre Young Singer of the Year, 2006 and is also an established dancer, with experience in jazz, tap, ballet and folk; she plays the flute and piano.
 
Pictured at the Opening Night of The Sound of Music at the London Palladium on Wednesday 15th November are six of the ten ‘possible’ Marias from the BBC TV programme ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?’ L to R: Aoife Mulholland (from Galway), Abi Finlay, Helena Blackman (2nd place), Simona Armstrong, Meliz Serman and Siobhan Dillon (3rd place). Andrew Lloyd Webber is pictured arriving at the London Palladium for the Opening Night of The Sound of Music on Wednesday 15th November.
Pictured at the Opening Night  L to R: Aoife Mulholland (from Galway), Abi Finlay, Helena Blackman (2nd place), Simona Armstrong, Meliz Serman and Siobhan Dillon (3rd place). Andrew Lloyd Webber is pictured arriving at the London Palladium for the Opening Night of The Sound of Music on Wednesday 15th November.

Connie was voted to play the part of Maria by the British public on the top-rating BBC TV programme ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?’ Starring alongside her is Lesley Garrett as Mother Abbess and Alexander Hanson as Captain von Trapp. Based on the uplifting true story of the Von Trapp family, the score touches the hearts of all ages and brims over with some of the most memorable songs ever performed on the musical stage including: My Favourite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Edelweiss, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, The Lonely Goatherd and of course the glorious title song The Sound of Music.

Graham Norton, who hosted the BBC TV programme ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?’ is pictured arriving at the London Palladium for the Opening Night of The Sound of Music on Wednesday 15th November. David Ian, one of the biggest theatre producers in the UK and one of the three judges on the BBC TV programme ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?’ is pictured at the London Palladium on the Opening Night of The Sound of Music on Wednesday 15th November.

Graham Norton, pictured arriving at the London Palladium for the Opening Night of The Sound of Music

David Ian,  pictured at the London Palladium on the Opening Night of The Sound of Music

A Lisburn man who attended the Opening Night said, “the atmosphere was electric, the entire cast was superb, the set and perfectly timed special effects were magnificent and the orchestra fantastic”. He had travelled to London to see Connie, the one true star of the night and he was not disappointed - she was “absolutely brilliant” he said, and proved that this really was “the part she was born to play”, getting a rapturous 2,500 strong standing ovation at the end of the show from a star-studded audience that included Andrew Lloyd Webber, Graham Norton, Cilla Black, Harry Enfield, Rowan Atkinson and Bob Geldof, to name but a few.

Performance times are: 7.30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays - Saturdays, with Tuesday performances at 7.00pm, and Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets, priced from £25.00 - £55.00 including all booking fees, are available from the London Palladium Box Office on 0870 890 1108 or at www.soundofmusiclondon.com.

If the Sound of Music is ‘one of your favourite things’ then make sure you see this fabulous show. This is the big one - a show not to be missed, even by people from Northern Ireland and low cost airline Easyjet can help to make that possible.