Mr Selfridge co-stars and former soap performers Kara Tointon (EastEnders) and Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street) will be among the performers in a special production of The Sound of Music which will be broadcast live on ITV this Christmas.
Tointon, who won critical acclaim for her performance in Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre four years ago, will take on the central role of Maria while Kelley will play the Baroness. The two and a half hour version of the ever-popular Rogers and Hammerstein film musical will also feature actor and classically trained tenor Julian Ovenden (Downton Abbey, My Night With Reg, Grand Hotel) as Captain Von Trapp and baritone and popular TV host and actor Alexander Armstrong as Max Detwieler.
ITV Studios is reportedly producing The Sound of Music Live with Bafta-nominated Coky Giedroyc (Wuthering Heights, Penny Dreadful) as creative director and Tony Award-winner Martin Koch (Billy Elliot the Musical) as musical director. The live television director is Richard Valentine (Strictly Come Dancing) with André Ptaszynski, Lee Connolly and Fiona Clark as executive producers.
Commenting on the announcement, ITV’s director of entertainment and comedy, Elaine Bedell said: “This is the first time in the UK that this type of project has been attempted – a musical drama both performed and broadcast live – but big ambitious live television events is what ITV does well. We’ve assembled some of the very best talent both in front of and behind the camera, and I can’t wait to see it all come together.”
London’s Three Mills Studios will host the production, but as exact details of ITV’s Christmas schedule are as closely guarded as their rivals’, it is not yet known exactly when the show will hit our TV screens during the festive period.
The ambitious project follows a similar production broadcast on US TV channel NBC two years ago. The show which featured chart-topping country singer Carrie Underwood as Maria was heavily promoted as ‘event TV’ and, although it was slated by the critics, proved a mid-week ratings hit.
The Sound of Music made its theatre debut on Broadway in 1959 and the 1965 film adaptation, the last musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, won five Academy awards including Best Picture. The show in all its forms (film, stage, and even singalong) has remained a family favourite over the years.
In 2006 Andrew Lloyd Webber’s search for a leading lady for his West End revival of the show was turned into the hit TV show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? It was also recently announced that Will.i.am’s protege from this year’s The Voice, Lucy O’Byrne will step into the iconic role of Maria in Bill Kenwright’s touring production of the show in December.
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