January 25, 2008 / 6:05 AM / in 10 years

Canadian search for next Maria von Trapp begins

<p>Sandra Pires as Maria Rainer (L) and Michael Kraus as Georg von Trapp perform in Vienna's Volksoper theatre during a rehearsal on February 25, 2005. Thousands of actresses throughout Canada will be vying for a chance at stardom when auditions begin on Friday to select who will play Maria von Trapp in a new production of "The Sound of Music." REUTERS/Michael Steiner HBP/AA</p>

TORONTO (Reuters) - Thousands of actresses throughout Canada will be vying for a chance at stardom when auditions begin on Friday to select who will play Maria von Trapp in a new production of “The Sound of Music,” which will debut in Toronto in September.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Mirvish Productions are teaming with CBC television, which will broadcast the rehearsals in an eight-part television series, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?”

The show will document the process, and the public will select the star of the musical from actresses chosen during auditions held across the country.

Auditions are open only to amateur actresses who think they have what it takes to follow in the footsteps of Mary Martin, who created the role on stage, and Julie Andrews, who starred in the film.

“It’s a highly specific thing that we’re looking for. We’re looking for a woman of a certain age, who has a pure soprano voice, who has a huge amount of stage presence and who can act,” Sheila Hockin, the executive producer of the show, said in a telephone interview.

The show will be based on the original BBC program of the same name, which became one of the highest-rated shows of its kind, according to the producers.

It will feature a panel of judges, but ultimately Canadian TV viewers will determine who will win the coveted role.

About 400 women have already pre-registered on the show’s Web site for the Toronto audition, and many more are expected to turn up at the first audition.

The winner of the reality show will join the ensemble professional cast in August to begin rehearsals, Hockin said.

“Such a large part of the English-speaking population of the world has such a strong association with that movie,” she added.

“It’s viral. You can’t resist ‘The Sound of Music,’ I don’t think.”

Reuters/Nielsen

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