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24 September 2014
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? 
Leanne Dobinson

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? finalists

Leanne Dobinson, 20

From Colchester, Essex
Occupation Unemployed
Family Two younger sisters Danielle and Shannon.
Experience Singing lessons age 12-15. Self-taught to sing in Italian, French, German and Latin.


An Essex lass, Leanne has been singing since she was young and has had no formal training, although she did have singing lessons for a few years when she was younger.


After being inspired by a Lesley Garrett TV show she taught herself how to sing in Italian, French, German and Latin by borrowing some CDs from the library.


Although Leanne played the role of a young Eponine in Les Miserables in the West End, it involved just walking across the stage each night and she didn't get the chance to sing.


Leanne took part in about 10 local talent competitions between ages 9 to 15, the biggest was the Haven Stars of Tomorrow National Finals, which she won!


She once wanted to be a nun after seeing The Sound of Music but soon changed her mind when she visited a school run by nuns.


In Leanne's School Year Book she was voted 'Person Most Likely To Be Famous'.


She was working as an assistant manager in a ladies' clothes shop until one week before her first audition. Business was quiet and they had to make job cuts. Although unemployed she has been able to concentrate on auditioning for Maria.


Leanne loves listening to classical music and loves Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli.


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


I have always been singing from a young age (really since I could talk).


What is your favourite musical?


The Phantom of the Opera, The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady.


Who is your favourite character in a musical and why?


Maria in The Sound of Music, because I see a lot of similarities in our characters. Or Christine in Phantom [of the Opera]. Her life is also very similar to mine.


What qualities do you have similar to those of Maria?


I am kind-hearted, I have child-like qualities, love children and have a real flair for adventure and trying new things.


Why should you be the next Maria?


My personality fits perfectly to the role as Maria and because I have had no formal training, I am a blank canvas that the producers and director can work with.


How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? 
Meliz Serman

Meliz Serman, 23

From Chingford, London
Occupation Worked as a fashion PA for four years
Family Younger sister Yeliz and brother Taylan, from a Turkish-Cypriot family.
Experience BMus and Masters in Music Performance and BA Hons Music (City University). Voice training at Guildhall.


Meliz has a great, fun sense of humour and is passionate about all music. She plays violin and piano and has been writing songs since she was four.


Her dream is to write a successful West End musical after first starring in one herself. She is currently studying a Masters in Music Performance Studies.


Meliz has no idea where her musical ability comes from as she is not from a particularly musical family and she has never been for any other West End auditions.


When she was 14, Meliz was a presenter on Nickelodeon and she has been singing in a funk/soul band, The Funkadrome who do originals and covers. She also works with a friend doing recitals as part of a vocal duo called Two Voices.


Meliz used to go to the gym religiously every morning and can belly dance "a bit". She also likes to think she is a good cook.


She lives with her family in North London and loves living at home as her family are all really close.


She loves Sixties American soul music and admires Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and loves funky bands like Outkast.


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


Probably when I was given my first singing solo by my music teacher, Siobhan Lihoreau, when I was 12.


What is your favourite musical?


Grease, Mary Poppins, Phantom of the Opera, Moulin Rouge and The Sound of Music, of course!


Who is your favourite character in a musical and why?


Obviously, Maria - she's determined, strong, passionate and ditzy all at once, like me! Rizzo [Grease], because she's gutsy.


Mary Poppins because she's organised and takes no nonsense (me!), and although she comes across as being harsh she's only doing it because she cares so much for the children. And Christine [Phantom of the Opera], because of her innocence.


What qualities do you have similar to those of Maria?


I'm definitely a flibbertigibbet... although I'm a perfectionist, I have my airy-fairy moments and I often speak before I've had a chance to think about it.


If I put my mind to something, I make sure I get it done! I am 100% determined and enthusiastic in whatever I do, and I like to think that I'm a strong person.


I know that the original Maria Augusta was an Aquarian, but I think the musical Maria is definitely a Taurean!


Why should you be the next Maria?


To play one of the most popular, loved and respected characters in musical theatre would be a dream come true for me!


Maria is a real person, a selfless character that will always exist because her story is timeless.


Like Maria, I'm determined, strong, fun, passionate and ditzy, and I would be honoured to be the person to keep her and her story alive in the West End, with a modern twist.



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