In 2006 Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber gave birth to a new form of TV talent show when he used ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’ to find the leading lady for his staging of The Sound of Music. Since then he has run similar programmes to find the lead on four other musicals, but where are the contestants now? We’ve tracked each one down for you!
1. How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? (The Sound of Music) – Winner: Connie Fisher
Connie was 23 when she won the first of Lloyd Webber’s shows thrusting her into the limelight. Having performed in many shows with amateur companies in her youth, Connie gained her training at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. After winning the show she performed in The Sound of Music for over a year before being replaced by Summer Stralen (niece of Bonnie Langford). During this time she also had the opportunity to sing on the West Side Story 50th Anniversary studio recording, won the 2007 lastminute.com People’s Choice Theatre Award forFavourite Theatre Actress and was awarded the whatsonstage.com Theatregoers Choice Award for London Newcomer of the Year.
After finishing the show, Connie embarked on a tour of the UK sponsored by Lord Lloyd Webber which was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Later that year she co-starred with Alistair McGowan in a revival of the musical They’re Playing Our Song at the Menier Chocolate Factory.She also starred in Caught In A Trap an ITV drama.
Fisher’s second solo album, Secret Love, was released on 23 February 2009. In April her “Secret Love” UK Tour was cancelled in order for her to undergo an operation on her vocal cords. Fisher also starred in the UK tour of The Sound of Music in 2009. In July this year Connie completed a UK Tour revival of Wonderful Town as Ruth opposite Michael Xavier. More info can be found on her official website
2. Any Dream Will Do! (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat) – Winner: Lee Mead
When he auditioned for Any Dream Will Do! Lee was performing in The Phantom of the Opera, after 10,000 initial auditionees Mead was selected to perform on the show and won. Immediately after winning the show Lee released the single ‘Any Dream Will Do’ in aid of Children in Need which got to number 2 in the singles chart. After rave reviews and 600 performances, Mead performed his last show as Joseph in January 2009.
Following his successful run as Joseph in the West End, Lee took a short course at the famous Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute before taking on his first major play in a UK tour of Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime. He then went on to appear in the role of Fiyero in the London production of Wicked. Mead was nominated for the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Takeover in a Role for this role.
Mead then took over the role of Emmett in Legally Blonde in the West End. He also made his television debut in August 2011, guest starring in Casualty and appeared in the second series of the science fiction drama, Bedlam on Sky Living.
In February this year he launched his 3rd solo album entitled Love Song. He is also famously married to ‘Any Dream Will Do’ judge Denise Van Outen, the pair have a child together called Betsy.
More information on Lee can be found on his official website
3. I’d Do Anything (Oliver!) – Winner: Jodie Prenger
The third of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s shows saw hopefuls battle it out for the chance to play Nancy in a West End revival of the musical Oliver! This was won by Jodie Prenger who wasn’t a stranger to the small screen having won the second series of The Biggest Loser. After winning the show Jodie appeared in the ensemble of Les Miserables to gain some West End experience before starting the part of Nancy in January 2009. After receiving fantastic reviews and winning the Theatregoers’ Choice Whatsonstage Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, she played her final performance as Nancy on 27 March 2010, and was succeeded by fellow West End leading lady Kerry Ellis (best known for her role as Elphaba in Wicked.)
Prenger released her autobiography, Its a Fine Life in early 2009. Jodie played the role of The Lady of the Lake in the UK tour of the hit musical Spamalot. She was also cast as Diane in the new drama series, Candy Cabs. She also frequently sits in for Paul O’Grady, when he is absent from his BBC Radio 2 show.
In June 2011, Prenger was cast in Waterloo Road as the new PR, Linda Wickes. Prenger is currently starring in One Man, Two Guvnors at the Haymarket Theatre in London and is due to play Elsie Tanner in Street of Dreams, the Coronation Street musical.
More info can be found on her official website
4. Over the Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz) – Winner: Danielle Hope
The next show was tasked to find the part of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz which was won by Danielle Hope. Hope won the part whilst still in school studying for her A-Levels. Aged only 19, Danielle began the role in February 2011 and won the 2011 BroadwayWorld UK Award for Best Leading Actress In a Musical. She played her final show in the role on 5 February 2012, the same day that her co-star, Michael Crawford left. Hope is currently appearing as Éponine in the West End production of Les Misérables, having joined the cast in June 2012.
Danielle’s official website is http://www.daniellehope.co.uk/
5. Superstar (Jesus Christ Superstar) – Winner: Ben Forster
Having won a scholarship at the prestigious Italia Conti Academy in London at just 16 and performed in various musicals including ‘All you need is love’ and a world tour of ‘Grease’, Ben was arguably the most experienced of all 5 winners. He has recently finished performing as Jesus in the arena tour of Jesus Chris Superstar which received outstanding reviews. We are not too sure what he has been doing since, but can probably assume that he has been relaxing and planning his next step toward musical theatre domination.
More information can be found at his official website
The rumours are flying round as to what the next show might be. If there is one, what do you think/would like it to be? Leave your answers in the comments!