How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
Alongside Andrew, an expert panel of critics will help the viewers choose their Maria. David Ian, John Barrowman and Zoe Tyler will bring their expertise in theatre, music, acting and singing to offer their criticism and advice to our finalists to help the viewers choose who they think should win the role.
David Ian – the theatre producer
Recently named the most powerful person in British theatre by The Stage newspaper, David Ian is one of the most successful and prolific producers in the UK.
His smash hits include some of the best-loved and most talked
about productions of the last 20 years including Guys and Dolls, The
King and I, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Anything Goes and The Producers
to name but a few.
David's career in theatre began as an actor with West End roles such as Rocky in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
It was whilst appearing in the Pirates of Penzance at the
London Palladium that he met Paul Nicholas and together they began producing
In 1993 David took his biggest gamble, taking out a second
mortgage to finance the West End production of Grease. The gamble paid
off and 13 years later the show is still playing to sell out houses
across the world.
David was appointed Chairman of Global Theatre in 2005. His role there encompasses the running of production activity worldwide from The Sound of Music in London to The Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas. He also oversees the programming of more than 50 theatres worldwide.
David is the co-producer of the upcoming The Sound of Music and he knows that whoever takes on such a famous role will need to have something special.
He will use his expertise as a renowned theatre producer
to get the best out of the finalists but he knows that being on the West
End stage is a tough job with no second chances.
He is placing his trust
in the viewers to pick the Maria they want to see on stage.
John Barrowman – the leading man
John has become a household name in recent months following his role as Captain
Jack in BBC ONE's Doctor Who and his skating routines on ITV's Dancing On
He is set to star in BBC THREE's new British sci-fi crime thriller from
Russell T Davies - Torchwood - later this year.
However TV is just one side to John's acting talent as he
has been a stalwart leading actor in musical theatre throughout his long
and busy career.
Born in Glasgow but raised in Illinois, John initially returned to the UK to study drama but a career as a leading man in musical theatre accidentally got in the way.
His big break came when he starred opposite Elaine Paige
in Cole Porter's Anything Goes.
Since his stage debut he has appeared in
almost every major musical of the last 30 years including Miss Saigon,
Chicago, Beauty and the Beast, Sunset Boulevard, Stephen Sondheim's Company,
Evita, Hair and The Phantom of the Opera to name just a few.
His experience as a leading man on the stage gives him perfect insight into what someone will need to bring to the role of Maria.
By his own admission John is 'tough but generous' as a leading
man and with his vast experience of leading roles across many shows he
will be trying to bring out the leading lady in the ten Marias.
Zoe Tyler – the vocal coach
Zoe Tyler is the expert vocal coach who knows what the role of Maria truly requires – a voice that will hit every note, stand out from the crowd and truly climb every mountain.
She knows that singing the lead in a West End production
takes talent, guts and hard work and that is before the real job even begins.
Zoe's own career on the West End began at the age of 20 when she appeared in Les Miserables. She went on to join Jesus Christ Superstar on tour, which was followed by the award-winning City of Angels in which she was part of the jazz singing quartet.
She then took a break from West End musicals to travel to
South Africa and Taiwan, singing songs from the shows. After a couple of
years touring the world, Zoe then returned to the West End in the long-running
musical Fame as the dance teacher.
As a recording artist, Zoe has sung on numerous artists' albums, including Michael Ball and Cliff Richard, and also many West End albums.
As a pop backing singer, Zoe has had the privilege to sing
live with Sir Elton John, Barry Manilow and Donna Summer as well as Rod
Stewart, Will Young, KD Lang and Bonnie Tyler.
Zoe now spends most of her time as a vocal coach coaching young pop singers, and has pupils in numerous West End shows. She is also a seasoned soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
As their vocal coach as well as critic, Zoe will be working week by week with
the finalists to prepare them for their live performances each Saturday night
and she wants 110% from them each and every time.