How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?


How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Infobox Television
show_name = How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?


caption =
format = Talent show
picture_format = PAL (576i), 16:9
runtime = 30–90mins
creator = Andrew Lloyd Webber
presenter = Graham Norton
judges = Andrew Lloyd Webber David Ian John Barrowman Zoe Tyler
channel = BBC One
first_aired = nowrap|29 July 2006
last_aired = nowrap|16 September 2006
num_series = 1
num_episodes = 8
country = UK
producer = BBC
followed_by = "Any Dream Will Do" (2007)
"I'd Do Anything" (2008)
website = http://www.bbc.co.uk/maria/
imdb_id = 0829473

"How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" was a multi-award-winning British talent show, shown on Saturday evenings on BBC One, first broadcast on 29 July 2006 until the series finale on 16 September 2006. It documented the search for a musical theatre performer to play the role of Maria von Trapp in the 2006 Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian stage production of "The Sound of Music". It was presented by Graham Norton, and "masterminded" by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The title of the show was derived from a line in the production's song "Maria". 23-year-old Connie Fisher was finally chosen as the new Maria; although Aoife Mulholland was also later asked by Lloyd Webber to play Maria as the 'alternate' on Monday and Wednesday matinee, after Connie became ill and was advised to reduce her performances to 6 shows per week.

The show became the first of a series of West End themed talent contests produced by the BBC in collaboration with Lloyd Webber. The second was titled "Any Dream Will Do" (a search for a lead performer for a production of Lloyd Webber's and Tim Rice's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"), while the third was called "I'd Do Anything" (a search for a new lead to play Nancy and three young performers to play Oliver in a production of the musical "Oliver!").

Format

The first week of the show documented the initial auditions against a regional panel, and later the show's expert panel, in which thousands of hopefuls were to be whittled down to fifty contestants to enter Lloyd Webber's "Maria School", from which ten would be selected to face the public vote. However, several additional performers were selected over this fifty contestant limit; one being Briony, who had been rejected initially due to nerves hampering her performance, but who returned for a second chance and was allowed in. A further four, whom the panel had rejected, were contacted by Lloyd Webber himself as he personally believed them to be potential Marias.

In the second week, the fifty-five selected contestants attended "Maria School" where judge Zoe Tyler, along with other tutors, gave the girls singing lessons. On the second day, fifteen were eliminated, leaving only forty. On the third day, another twenty left, leaving only twenty contestants in the competition. The twenty performers were then taken to Andrew Lloyd Webber's house, where they performed live in front of fifty influential people in the theatre business. The best ten were taken through to the finals.

During the finals, each week, the contenders were set various singing and performing tasks and the public got a chance to vote for their favourite Maria. The two Marias with the least votes in a given week performed a sing-off in front of Lloyd Webber, who then decided which Maria to keep in the contest. This was repeated with the top 10, the top 9 and the top 8. With the top seven and top five, two were voted off in the program, and there were two different sing-offs.

Lloyd Webber had no say in the final casting decision, when in the concluding edition of the series it was left to the public to choose who should play Maria out of the final two contenders, Connie Fisher and Helena Blackman. After more than 2 million votes were cast, the winning entrant was confirmed as Fisher,cite web | title = Problem solved! The hills are alive for Connie Fisher as Welsh Maria wins role of a lifetime | publisher = BBC Press Office | date = 2006-09-16 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/09_september/16/maria.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ] who subsequently played Maria in the West End until 23 February 2008. Other contestants also went on to have successful musical careers, including Aoife Mulholland landing a limited role as Maria in the West End production, performing on Monday evenings and Wednesday matinees to allow Fisher to rest her voice.

Finalists

Ten potential made it through the auditions process to perform during the live shows. One contestant, Emilie Alford, pulled out of the competition at this stage deciding it was not for her, to be replaced by eventual finalist, Siobhan Dillon, gaining her the nickname "Second Chance Maria". [cite web | title = How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? finalists | publisher = BBC Press Office | date = 2006-08-06 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/08_august/06/maria.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

Judges

* Andrew Lloyd Webbermusical theatre composer and producer
* David Iantheatre producer
* John Barrowmanmusical performer, dancer, singer and actor
* Zoe Tylervoice coach, singer and performer

Live shows

Week one

Following the first week of competition, Laura was the first Maria to be eliminated from the competition. The show performances were: [cite web | title = She's not Maria! WPC Maria says 'So long, Farewell' as the first voted out of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? | publisher = BBC Press Office | date = 2006-08-12 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/08_august/12/maria.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

*Group performances:
**"How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" (from "The Sound of Music")
**"I Have Confidence" (from "The Sound of Music")

*Individual performances (in order of performance):
**Leanne: "It's Oh So Quiet" (original artist: Björk)
**Laura: "Torn" (Natalie Imbruglia)
**Abi: "Nobody Does It Better" (Carly Simon)
**Aoife: "Runaway" (The Corrs)
**Siobhan: "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" (Shania Twain)
**Connie: "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (Aretha Franklin)
**Simona: "Over The Rainbow" (Eva Cassidy)
**Belinda: "Over The Rainbow" (Judy Garland)
**Helena: "Crazy Chick" (Charlotte Church)
**Meliz: "Son of a Preacher Man" (Dusty Springfield)

*Sing-off:
**Helena and Laura received the least number of viewer votes and were in the sing-off, and performed "No Matter What" from the musical "Whistle Down the Wind".
**Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to save Helena and eliminate Laura.

Week two

As the mission for this week, the potential Marias performed a scene from the musical with an actor as Captain Von Trapp. [cite web | title = Helena's Diary: Thursday | publisher = BBC | date =2006-08-18 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/maria/maria/news/2006/08/18/35781.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

Belinda was the second contestant to be eliminated from the series. The show performances were: [cite web | title = She's not Maria! Hope of West End fame bites dust as Opera Maria is out of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? | publisher = BBC Press Office | date = 2006-08-19 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/08_august/19/maria.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

*Group performances:
**"My Favorite Things" (from "The Sound of Music")
**"Don't Rain on My Parade" (Barbra Streisand)

*Individual performances (in order of performance):
**Belinda: "Fever" (Peggy Lee)
**Abi: "The Closest Thing to Crazy" (Katie Melua)
**Simona: "Material Girl" (Madonna)
**Meliz: "The Voice Within" (Christina Aguilera)
**Helena: "Woman in Love" (Barbra Streisand)
**Connie: "Shout" (Lulu)
**Leanne: "See the Day" (Dee C. Lee)
**Siobhan: "Chains" (Tina Arena)
**Aoife: "If My Friends Could See Me Now" (from "Sweet Charity")

*Sing-off:
**Belinda and Meliz were in the sing-off, and performed "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" from "Evita".
**Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to save Meliz and eliminate Belinda.

Week three

During the week, David Ian talked to the girls about fitness and stamina, and Claire Sweeney gave the girls some advice on looking after themselves and their voices. The mission was a fitness test, with Olympic athlete Iwan Thomas, requiring the Marias to complete an assault course. [cite web | title = Meliz's Diary: Wednesday | publisher = BBC | date =2006-08-24 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/maria/maria/news/2006/08/24/35908.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ] The Marias also attended the premiere of the film "You, Me and Dupree" in Leicester Square. [cite web | title = Meliz's Diary: Tuesday | publisher = BBC | date =2006-08-23 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/maria/maria/news/2006/08/24/35908.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

The third potential Maria to be elimated was Meliz. The show performances were: [cite web | title = She's not Maria! Sexy Maria says goodbye as she is voted out of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? | publisher = BBC Press Office | date = 2006-08-26 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/08_august/26/maria.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

*Group performances:
**"The Lonely Goatherd" (from "The Sound of Music")
**"Don't Stop Me Now" (Queen)

*Individual performances (in order of performance):
**Siobhan: "Jump (for My Love)" (Girls Aloud)
**Leanne: "9 to 5" (Dolly Parton)
**Helena: "Flashdance... What a Feeling" (Irene Cara)
**Aoife: "Sway" (Pussycat Dolls)
**Meliz: "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (Cyndi Lauper)
**Abi: "Big Spender" (Shirley Bassey)
**Connie: "My Baby Just Cares for Me" (Nina Simone)
**Simona: "I Only Want to Be with You" (Dusty Springfield)

*Sing-off:
**Helena and Meliz were in the sing-off, and performed "Take That Look Off Your Face" from "Tell Me on a Sunday".
**Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to save Helena and eliminate Meliz.

Week four

Ahead of Saturady night, Andrew Lloyd Webber made a surprise visit to the contestants and worked with each of them to help with their performance. [cite web | title = Helena's Diary: Wednesday | publisher = BBC | date =2006-08-31 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/maria/maria/news/2006/08/31/36038.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

Simona and Leanne became the fourth and fifth contestants to hear they were not Maria. The show performances were: [cite web | title = They're not Maria! Romanian Maria and Baby Maria go in double Maria knockout | publisher = BBC Press Office | date = 2006-09-02 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/09_september/02/maria.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ] [cite web | title = Fourth Show Result | publisher = BBC | date =2006-09-02 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/maria/maria/news/2006/09/02/36090.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

*Group performances:
**"Do-Re-Mi" (from "The Sound of Music")

*Individual performances (in order of performance):
**Helena: "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (Elton John)
**Connie: "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" (from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes")
**Abi: "Summertime" (from "Porgy and Bess")
**Leanne: "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (Olivia Newton John)
**Aoife: "You'll Never Walk Alone" (from "Carousel")
**Simona: "It's My Turn" (Diana Ross)
**Siobhan: "Songbird" (Eva Cassidy)

*First sing-off:
**Helena and Simona were in the first sing-off, and performed "Memory" from "Cats".
**Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to save Helena and eliminate Simona.

*Second sing-off:
**Helena and Leanne were in the second sing-off, and performed "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from "Jesus Christ Superstar".
**Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to save Helena and eliminate Leanne.

Week five

This week, the Marias mission was a chemistry test with John Barrowman, which involved Barrowman giving the Marias a surprise kiss.cite web | title = They're not Maria! But it's Connie, Siobhan and Helena for the final | publisher = BBC Press Office | date = 2006-09-09 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/09_september/09/maria.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

In the semi-final, the sixth and seventh Marias to be eliminated were Abi and Aoife. The show performances were:

*Group performances:
**"I've Got Confidence" (from "The Sound of Music")
**With John Barrowman: "Have You Met Miss Jones?" (from "I'd Rather Be Right")

*Individual performances (in order of performance):
**Connie: "If I Can't Have You" (from "Saturday Night Fever")
**Siobhan: "All That Jazz" (from "Chicago")
**Helena: "My Heart Will Go On" (Celine Dion)
**Abi: "Maybe This Time" (from "Cabaret")
**Aoife: "Footloose" (from "Footloose")

*First sing-off:
**Abi and Aoife were in the first sing-off, and performed "Any Dream Will Do" from "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat".
**Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to save Aoife and eliminate Abi.

*Second sing-off:
**Siobhan and Aoife were in the second sing-off, and performed "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" from "Evita".
**Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to save Siobhan and eliminate Aoife.

Week six

In the run-up to the final, the three finalists and Lloyd Webber visited Salzburg to visit some of the locations made famous by the "The Sound of Music", including Leopoldskron Palace and Nonnberg Abbey, to give the finalists a chance to understand the real Maria von Trapp. [cite web | title = The Hills are Alive... | publisher = BBC | date = 2006-09-13 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/maria/maria/news/2006/09/13/36369.shtml | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

The grand final saw Connie win the competition, with Helena coming second and Shiobhan coming third. The show performances were:

*Group performance:
**Finalists and former Marias: "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" (from "The Sound of Music")

*Individual performances (in order of performance):
**Siobhan: "Anyone Who Had a Heart" (Dionne Warwick")
**Helena: "Cabaret" (from "Cabaret")
**Connie: "As Long as He Needs Me" (from "Oliver!")
**Siobhan: "My Favorite Things" (from "The Sound of Music")
**Helena: "Do-Re-Mi" (from "The Sound of Music")
**Connie: "The Lonely Goatherd" (from "The Sound of Music")

*Following the elimination of Siobhan, who received the lowest number of viewer votes, the final two performed their favourite song from the series and a duet, and the eight eliminated contestants performed together:
**Helena: "Woman in Love" (Barbra Streisand)
**Connie: "Shout" (Lulu)
**Connie and Helena: "The Sound of Music" (from "The Sound of Music")
**Former Marias: "Edelweiss" (from "The Sound of Music")

Controversy

According to the British tabloid newspaper the "Sunday Mirror", 23 year old Emma Williams, a professional stage actress, had also been signed to play Maria under a twelve month contract. However, the winner would still get a six month contract and would have performed six of the eight weekly shows. cite web|url=http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=17635333&method=full&siteid=62484&headline=exclusive--pro-singer-emma-lined-up-for-maria-despite-hunt-name_page.html|title=Pro Singer Emma lined up for Maria despite hunt|accessdate=2006-08-28|last=Todd|first=Ben] [ cite web|url=http://www.thisistheatre.com/soundofmusic/index.html|title=The Sound Of Music|accessdate=2006-09-16 ] . Williams later "withdrew her services" from the musical, leaving Fisher to perform in every show unless indisposed. [ cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/5370892.stm|title='Alternate' Maria quits musical|accessdate=2006-09-22 ]

According to "a programme insider" reported in the British newspaper the "Daily Mail", in the week of the final, Siobhan and Helena felt that in retrospect, Lord Lloyd-Webber and the BBC production team had favoured Connie. Their accusations of special treatment included: incredibly well edited coverage; flattering camera angles; favourable backstage training highlights; given songs to perform that flatter her voice and are perfectly tailored to her abilities; her outfits are more "sparkly" and exciting than the ones they have been given. [ cite web|url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=405366&in_page_id=1773|title=The Sound Of Music|accessdate=2006-09-16 ]

Awards

The series won two major awards, and received a nomination for another:
*2007 International Emmy Awards: winner – non-scripted entertainment [cite web | title = UK shows dominate International Emmys | url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/nov/20/television | last = Fitzsimmons | first = Caitlin | publisher = "The Guardian" | date = 2007-11-20 | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]
*2006 Royal Television Society Awards: winner – best entertainment programme [cite web | title = Dame Helen is small screen queen | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6447221.stm | publisher = BBC News | date = 2007-03-14 | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]
*2007 British Academy Television Awards: nominated – best entertainment programme [cite web | title = British Academy Television Awards 2007 nominations | url = http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article1641091.ece | publisher = "The Times" Online | date = 2007-04-11 | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

International series

On 20 August 2006, it was reported that Lloyd Webber had taken legal action against David Ian. Lloyd Webber reportedly wanted to take the show's format to the United States to cast a Broadway theatre production of "Grease". Lloyd Webber discovered that David Ian had already brought the idea to NBC, who announced they will look for unknowns to play Sandy Dumbrowski and Danny Zuko, via reality TV show "" (initially named "You're The One That We Want") with David Ian and BBC Worldwide, leaving Lord Lloyd-Webber furious. David Ian said "I don't understand the problem. Andrew has no connection with the stage show "Grease", which I have successfully produced in the UK. There is a new production of "Grease" on Broadway in the spring of 2007, that's why I've been asked to judge on "You're The One That We Want"." cite web|url=http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/david%20ian%20i%20dont%20understand%20andrews%20problem_1005649|title=David Ian: 'I don't understand Andrew's problem'|accessdate=2006-08-27|author=Wenn]

A Canadian version of the show, under the same title, searched for a Maria for an upcoming Toronto production of "The Sound of Music"; this show is initiated by Lloyd-Webber, and began appearing on CBC Television on June 15 2008. The winner, Elicia MacKenzie, will join the production at the Princess of Wales Theatre, under Mirvish Productions. Runner-up Janna Polzin was cast as "alternate Maria", meaning she will perform two of the weekly eight shows. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/arts/theatre/story/2007/12/19/maria-audition.html TV series to search high and low for Canadian Maria (Wednesday, December 19, 2007 -12:36 PM ET)CBC News] ] It is being hosted by comedian and actor Gavin Crawford while the judges/coaches are John Barrowman, Simon Lee and Elaine Overholt.

References

External links

*bbc.co.uk|id=maria|title="How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?"
*imdb title|id=0829473|title=How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
* [http://www.thisistheatre.com/soundofmusic/howdoyousolveaproblemlikemaria.html "This Is Theatre" website] , with more background information on the contestants
* [http://www.cbc.ca/maria CBC website] , the Canadian version of the show


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