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24 September 2014
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? 
Abi Finley

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? finalists

Abi Finley, 23

From Prestwich, Manchester
Occupation Student
Family Abi has two sisters, Marian and Bex, and loves being the middle child.
Experience MA Acting and Musical Theatre (Central School of Speech and Drama) and lots of amateur dramatics.


A fun girl who cracks a joke at least every five minutes, Abi is incredibly laid back and always the last to wake up at Maria School. She is a party girl who likes a night out and is especially fond of places that play cheesy music.


Abi is a student who has previously studied English at Leeds University and is currently at the end of her Masters in Musical Theatre at Central School of Speech and Drama where she met another Maria finalist Aoife.


They are good friends and went to the auditions together in Manchester but neither thought they would get through.


Although she has performed in lots of amateur dramatic shows, this was Abi's first professional audition.


Abi is from an Orthodox Jewish family, and was surrounded by music throughout her childhood.


Her two biggest inspirations are Barbra Streisand and her mum Deborah who is a stalwart of the Manchester amateur dramatics circuit. She performed when she was pregnant with Abi and says that Abi would kick to the time of the music.


Abi describes her mum as "an unbelievable singer and actress". Other than performing, Abi's ideal job would be to be a drama teacher.


Her claim to fame is that she once met Take That at the age of 10 while they were doing a photo-shoot in the street – Jason ruffled her hair and she blushed.


When did you first realise you had a talent for singing?


Don't think I have realised it yet! First made people cry singing Edelweiss on my play school stage at the age of three - although that might just have been because they wanted me to shut up!


What is your favourite musical?


The Sound of Music, Billy Elliot, Ragtime, Into The Woods and Sunset Boulevard.


Who is your favourite character in a musical and why?


Fanny Brice [Funny Girl] for her drive, ambition, comedy timing and sense of fun.


What qualities do you have similar to those of Maria?


We've both had bad experience of short hair, have a love of music, can't stop singing wherever I am, tomboyish qualities, rapport with kids and the ability to fall in love with a man with a large fleet!


Why should you be the next Maria?


To be the first Jewish nun!


How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? 
Aoife Mulholland

Aoife Mulholland, 28

From Salthill, Galway
Occupation Student
Family Two brothers Alan and Eddie and sister Lisa. She is the youngest of the four.
Experience Music Degree from University College Dublin, MA Acting Musical Theatre (Central School of Speech and Drama), ex-lead singer in funk/jazz band, lots of amateur dramatics.


Aoife is the only Irish girl in the final ten and is currently studying for an MA in Acting and Musical Theatre at the Central School of Speech and Drama (along with Abi).


The youngest of four children, Aoife grew up in Salthill, a seaside resort in Ireland. She is always up for the "craic" and has embraced student life!


Entertainment runs in her family - her grandparents owned a pub and her grandad was often the main entertainer. When her family get together there's always a sing-song.


The first amateur musical Aoife starred in was The Sound Of Music – she played Brigitta and her brother played Fredrick.


Six months before her course at the Central School of Speech and Drama, Aoife moved to London and managed to get a professional four month contract singing with Dance of Desire (a show similar to Riverdance).


Aoife also teaches singing with Stagecoach for 6 to 16 year olds most weekends and she absolutely loves it.


Her favourite singers are Aretha Franklin, Lauren Hill and Erykah Badu. Aoife is a pianist and an Irish dancer and if she couldn't perform then she would be a property developer.


When did you first realise you had a talent for singing?


Age five maybe? I come from a very musical family - every year we would meet on Christmas night and all the kids were encouraged to get up and perform. I think it was then that I realised I loved singing.


What is your favourite musical?


Les Mis, a masterpiece!


Who is your favourite character in a musical and why?


Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. I love her transformation from a rough and ready girl to a sophisticated lady.


What qualities do you have similar to those of Maria?


Playful - I try not to take myself too seriously. I speak my mind but know when to hold back. I also handle big things in my life in my stride but the little things get me into a right tizzy!


Why should you be the next Maria?


Until the age of 17 I was surrounded by nuns at school so I really know how they think. No, seriously!


Maria is just the best character to play. She's funny, boisterous, speaks her mind, passionate, hard working, practical, tomboyish yet girly - I mean, she is just everything!


It would be such a challenge to play that role (I love a good challenge!) and I'd give it my all.


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