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24 September 2014
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Maria finalists Connie, Siobhan and Helena

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Problem solved! The hills are alive for Connie Fisher as Welsh Maria wins role of a lifetime

Category: TV Entertainment; BBC ONE

Date: 16.09.2006
Printable version

Tonight's grand final of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria on BBC ONE saw a 23-year-old actress and part-time telesales girl from Pembrokeshire win the most sought-after role in British theatre - the role of Maria von Trapp in the new West End production of The Sound of Music.


Welsh Maria - Connie Fisher - the winner of the show, could not believe her dream had come true. She had wanted to play this part all her life and now her dream is a reality.


"I feel speechless. Absolutely amazing. I am absolutely exhausted. I gave this show tonight everything I had - vocally, emotionally - by the end of it I was on the floor.


"I really didn't expect to be Maria tonight. I thought Helena had it bagged because at the end of it after singing Shout and those big showstopper numbers I had no voice left for the last song. I cannot wait to work on that soprano!


"My Nana, Dot, and mum will be having a heart attack at this - I cannot believe it. This feels like I am living the dream.


"It's changed my life forever - no more telesales! My life is in the theatre now and that's where I always wanted it to be.


"The first thing I am going to do tonight is open a bottle of champagne and I'm going to rest vocally and I want to thank everybody for voting for me.


"For everyone in Wales I'd like to say - Diolch yn fawr iawn i pawb sy'n wedi pleideisio i fi yn Cymru. Diolch.


"To Andrew and David - I will not let you down. You have invested your money wisely and I cannot wait for first night - I've dreamt of this and it doesn't feel like it's really happening. It's the most amazing thing in the world."


Tonight, the Lord of the Theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber, had absolutely no say in the choosing of his leading lady as the viewers voted for their favourite Maria from the three finalists - Connie Fisher from Pembrokeshire, Helena Blackman from Southampton and Siobhan Dillon from Staffordshire.


Andrew Lloyd Webber was thrilled with the viewers' choice: "I am delighted for her and she is going to be a huge West End star. I think the public chose well. She would bring consummate professionalism to the role."


To Connie he said: "You are a star and I really believe you have a huge career in musical theatre."


Connie had proved to the panel and the viewers week after week how much she wanted the role by consistently pulling out all the stops and performing her Welsh socks off, but tonight she claimed her crown as a new queen of the theatre.


After outstanding performances of As Long As He Needs Me from Oliver and The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music, Connie made Andrew punch the air with joy.


The finalists performed a range of songs from The Sound of Music as well as other musical numbers.


Earlier this week they visited the historic city of Salzburg in Austria - home to the film version of the Sound of Music and also to the real Maria von Trapp.


Tonight, over two million votes were cast to find this new Maria.


Host Graham Norton added: "I am delighted that Connie won. I think of all the girls she wanted it more than any of the others - it was like she needed it. I was worried for her if she hadn't won - I think her head might have exploded.


"This could have gone horribly wrong for Andrew and David but tonight it was absolutely a three-horse race - it could have gone any way."


The panel of experts who have worked through thousands of potential Marias to find ten who were put to the audience vote had nothing but praise for Connie.


Co-producer of the The Sound of Music, David Ian, was thrilled that his Maria had finally been chosen: "She is the total package of talent that Andrew and I need for this show.


"I am absolutely delighted - the best girl won. I am thrilled with my leading lady - now the hard work really starts.


"I think my investment is safe. I'm a happy bunny - I will sleep well for the first time in eight weeks.


"There was real risk here - real jeopardy - real public vote and they voted for the best girl in the competition.


"Connie shows that anyone from anywhere can make it if they try."


Tough-talking vocal coach Zoe Tyler, who has worked constantly with the girls week after week, said after the show: "I'm thrilled for Connie - but I'm just as thrilled for Helena who probably can't believe that she was here in the semi-final.


"They are both fantastic. Connie sings with such passion and she sets foot on the stage and she knows how to work it - she knows how to be a leading lady. She was the right choice."


Actor of stage and screen John Barrowman said: "I think the British public chose correctly - I think Helena is great but for consistency, the pizzazz, and for what I was looking for in a leading lady, Connie has it.


"I said I would love to perform with her and perhaps now I will because she is right up there with the rest of us."


Connie wins a six-month contract to play Maria in the West End show of The Sound of Music, doing six out of eight performances a week when it opens at the Palladium later this year.


Third place was Siobhan Dillon, 22, a fashion student from Lichfield, Staffordshire, who was told by Andrew that a major record company already wanted her for a huge record deal.


She said: "Coming third here is the most amazing achievement of my entire life and I'm going to have to go some to beat it. I've gone on the most huge journey - not just acting, singing and dancing but personally and I don't regret a single thing. I'm so happy I got this far. I don't feel anything but a winner."


And on the record deal news: "I think the record deal sounds absolutely amazing and I'd be stupid to turn that down; but I've got this challenge now and I'm one that cannot let go and now I've tasted musical theatre I'm going to try and try and try until I can get myself on a West End stage."


Second place was Helena Blackman, 23, a professional performer from Southampton, who had been dubbed "Miracle Maria" after surviving four sing-offs throughout the series.


"I feel quite relieved - something is over but something new could be beginning. I can't help but think it was the best decision. I always knew that Connie wanted this more than anything. She lived and breathed it - maybe more than Siobhan and I - and we would have loved to have been the part.


"But I would have felt heartbroken if she hadn't got it because I knew how much she wanted it.


"I've been on an amazing journey - I know I can do musical theatre but I've had to prove myself; but I've loved every minute of it.


"I will keep auditioning - I will keep knocking on their doors and hopefully they will let me in."


Pictures of tonight's final are available on the password- protected BBC Picture Publicity website or through the Press Association.


Notes to Editors


Songs this evening were:


Main Show


Opening number

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria - The Sound Of Music. Three finalists and seven ex-Marias (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers)


Siobhan - Anyone Who Had A Heart - Dionne Warwick (lyrics by Hal David, music by Burt Bacharach)

Helena - Cabaret - Cabaret (lyrics by Fred Ebb, music by John Kander)

Connie - As Long As He Needs Me - Oliver (words and music by Lionel Bart)


Siobhan - Favourite Things - The Sound Of Music (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers)

Helena - Do Re Mi - The Sound Of Music (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers)

Connie - The Lonely Goatherd - The Sound Of Music (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers)


To Maria in third place

So Long, Farewell - The Sound Of Music - final three Marias (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers)


Second Show


Song of the Series

Helena - Woman In Love (words and music by Barry Gibb and Robin Gibb)

Connie - Shout (by O'Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley)


Duet by the two finalists

The Sound Of Music - The Sound Of Music - two finalists (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers)


Group Number

Edleweiss - eight ex-Marias (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers)


Winner performance

The Sound Of Music - The Sound Of Music (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers)


Final song

So Long Farewell - The Sound Of Music - nine ex-Marias and winner (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers)






Category: TV Entertainment; BBC ONE

Date: 16.09.2006
Printable version


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