Musical lovers can look forward to a few of their favourite things when the Sound of Music rings out at the Sunderland Empire later this month.
Heading up the classic tale as Maria is The Voice runner up Lucy O’Byrne, alongside Coronation Street actor Andrew Lancel as the dashing Captain Von Trapp - and you could be there for free.
We’ve got a pair of tickets to give away for the opening night of the show’s run, from June 21 to 25.
Playing a role made famous by Julie Andrews is a defining moment for Lucy’s career. She caught the ear of producers Bill Kenwright after featuring in BBC talent show The Voice with chart-topper Will.i.am as her mentor, and biggest fan. She became the first classical singer to reach the final, impressing viewers with her vocal range.
Now she’s making her musical debut as the young postulant, Maria, as she brings to life the world-famous story of the singing family.
Speaking about how the role came about, she said: “The people from Bill Kenwright contacted my agent and my theatrical agent pretty much as soon as The Voice
ended and there was a lot to learn and to do. I had three rounds of auditions and I was really put through my paces!
“They knew I could sing but they have to make sure they can trust you to take the pressure because Maria really is the centre of the whole story and she carries a lot of it, so they tested me a lot. But it was good fun and an interesting process.”
In her leading role, Lucy hits the high note with some of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s greatest hits, including Edelweiss, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, So Long, Farewell and title song, The Sound of Music.
The tracks weave together the story of the Trapp Family Singers and Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography, which inspired Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse to create a Broadway musical in 1959 about the family’s escape to freedom as their beloved Austria becomes part of the Third Reich at the start of WWII.
Like most people, Lucy was already familiar with the hit film the musical spawned.
“Oh yeah, I knew all the songs,” she said. “Although I did have to learn Lonely Goatherd for the auditions because although I know it, I’d never learned to yodel before, so that was quite tough. I knew all the other songs, they’re so famous, and for someone who grew up in musical theatre, I grew up watching it.”
She added: “It’s big and as a debut it’s huge and big pressure because it’s such an important show to so many people and everyone knows it and so many people have their own idea of who Maria should be, but I just want to make it my own.”
Speaking about what sparked her love of singing, she said: “My dad was the one who originally got me to sing and taught me to sing. People used to actually call us the von Trapps because me and my sister used to sing together on shows. My parents own a stage school that my sister teaches at and I helped out there when I was growing up, so we’re known to our family friends as the von Trapps, which is now rather ironic.”
•Sound of Music is at Sunderland Empire from June 21-25. Tickets from Tel. 0844 871 3022 or www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland.
•To win a pair of tickets, answer this question: which actress played Maria in The Sound of Music film? Send your answer and contact details on a postcard to Sound of Music Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton, DH4 5RA. Or, email your answer and contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk