Big thank you from

Lisburn born Connie brings Sound of Music home

Connie Fisher -star of 'Maria'LISBURN-born West End sensation Connie Fisher has extended her contract so that she can star as 'Maria' in The Sound of Music when it comes to the Grand Opera House in Belfast this month.

Connie, who was born in Lisburn while her father, an army major, was stationed at Thiepval Barracks, was due to end her contract when the show finishes its Edinburgh Playhouse run, but the opportunity to play the Grand Opera House in Belfast proved too irresistible to miss.

Speaking to the Star this week, Connie said she was thrilled to be returning to Northern Ireland for the first time since she was a child.

"I am really looking forward to going to Belfast. I have never been back to Northern Ireland hut my mum is coming over as well so it will be a bit of a family reunion. Wherever I go I seem to find new family!" she joked. "I was due to end my run but I extended it to allow me to come to Belfast.

The tour has been going brilliantly and I love getting to experience new cities. Obviously Belfast will be my favourite city but I've also really loved Edinburgh. Belfast will be the smallest theatre we've played so it will be very intimate and really enjoyable."

Connie took on the role of Maria after winning BBC1's 'How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?' in 2006 and she has never tired of the role. "It will be with some sadness that I will leave the show hut I am only 26 so I am not saying goodbye altogether, I could still return to the role.

"I did a documentary in Austria called the Real Maria and that was interesting because I discovered how feisty she was. She wasn't as nice as we all think.

"The character has evolved as I have evolved and she has grown up a lot. She's great fun to play and everyone loves her."

Connie has a long list of dreams to pursue when she leaves the show and she certainly won't be type-cast. However, her main priority in the short term will be in a much more personal role. "My next role will be as a wedding planner for my wedding in September," she revealed.

"I would love to record another album, but since I released an album last year I don't think I'll be doing that any time soon. I would also like to do some more straight acting on the stage or on television and I would love to have my own radio show," she added.

Connie will star opposite star of stage and screen Michael Praed as 'Captain Von Trapp'. Michael is well known for his various roles, including parts in Dynasty and Casualty, as well as becoming Robin of Sherwood in the popular I980's television show.

Michael and Connie will be joined by Marilyn Hill Smith as 'Mother Abbess',  Jacinta Mulcahy as 'Baroness Schraeder', Martin Callaghan as 'Max', Claire Fishenden as 'Liesl' and Jeremy Taylor as 'Rolf'. Kirsty Malpass will play 'Maria' at certair performances.

This lavish production tells the story of the Von Trapp family's flight across the mountains with its unforgettable score that includes some of the most memorable songs everperformed on the musical stage including 'My Favorite Things', 'Do-Re-Mi', 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain, 'The Lonely Goatherd' and the title song 'The Sound of Music'. The Sound of Music runs at the Grand Opera House in Belfast from Wednesday February 24 until Saturday March 20. Tickets for the show are on sale from the Grand Opera House Box Office on 9024 I9I9.

Ulster Star