Big thank you from Lisburn.com

The hall was alive as West End star Connie visits Friends

by STACEY HEANEY

Connie with the nuns during her recent visit to Friends' Prep.
			Maria meets Maria, Connie meets Carlie Rosbotham who played Maria and Bryce Brittain-Dissont who starred as Captain Von Trapp.
Connie with the nuns during her recent visit to Friends' Prep. Maria meets Maria, Connie meets Carlie Rosbotham who played Maria and Bryce Brittain-Dissont who starred as Captain Von Trapp.

PERFORMING in front of a large crowd when your school is putting on one of the world's best loved musicals is enough to get the butterflies going in anyone's stomach. So imagine what it was like for Friends Prep pupil Carlie Ramsbotham when she struck up the first notes as Maria in The Sound of Music and looked down at the special guest sitting in the audience - West End star Connie Fisher who has made the role her very own.

But far from being put off, the cast rose to the occasion to produce a stunning performance which left Connie full of praise.

Connie, who was born in Lisburn, came to the public's attention following the BBC's search for a star 'How do you solve a problem like Maria?', and was left fearing for her role after seeing the Prep pupils deliver a superb production, as she praised their performances, particularly that of 11-year-old Carlie.

The pupils were thrilled to spend time with Connie, who spent three hours at the school last Wednesday not only enjoying the show, but spending time talking to pupils, signing autographs and enjoying tea before bidding the youngsters 'adieu'.

Connie with the Von Trapp children¬†  Connie Fisher meets the cast before the performance. 
Connie with the Von Trapp children  Connie Fisher meets the cast before the performance.

The Prep pupils had been working on the show every day, spending hours in rehearsals for the big event on Tuesday, before they learnt they would have to do it all again the next day for their special guest.

And so, once again they took to the stage, a little nervously, as Connie sat and watched the show.

Carlie said: "I was nervous and sort of scared, but I think it turned out quite well. We were tired from Tuesday but it went very well." Carlie, who was praised by Connie during a radio interview later in the week, has now been inspired to continue performing.

"She couldn't believe the age I was, a friend who was with her said I should definitely continue singing. I would like to be in the West End," she said.

A number of pupils who took part in the show including, Carlie; Bryce Britton-Dissont, who played Captain Von Trapp; Eve McCready; Ellie McConnell; Rosie Henderson; Anna McDermott; Molly McCartney and Conor Monteith spoke to the Star about the visit.

"She said she was very nervous," they said. "She had never seen the show performed, she has always been in it. She said we did very well and that it was a great performance overall."

Primary Six pupil Molly McCartney will be returning the favour when she will be going along to watch Connie as Maria in the show currently running in the Grand Opera House next Wednesday.

"I'm going to see the show, but I don't think she'll see me," she said.

The pupils were thrilled to meet Connie and the visit is sure to be one that they, the staff and parents will never forget.

stacey.heaney@ulsterstar.co.uk

Ulster Star
12/03/2010