‘Music’ gets dose of reality

Webber will cast 'Sound' lead through tube skein

LONDON — How do you cast a girl to play Maria? The answer, if you’re Andrew Lloyd Webber and you’re co-producing “The Sound of Music,” is to go the route of British reality TV.

The composer-impresario told Variety Nov. 30 that he and co-producer David Ian were in negotiations with the BBC to devise a talent show to find a comely new Maria for next fall’s West End revival of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein show.

“You’ve got to assume Maria is not exactly Mary Martin’s age,” says Lloyd Webber, referring to the original star, who was well into her 40s when “Sound of Music” opened on Broadway in 1959.

And though mention had initially been made of casting fortysomething “Woman in White” star Maria Friedman in the role, thoughts have moved on.

Lloyd Webber aims to capture “that frisson when you know the oldest daughter” among the Von Trapp children “is looking at a governess who’s a young girl only a couple years older than she is. That could make (the show) very, very exciting to a contemporary audience.”

Not least, presumably, because it ups the sexual ante. Indeed, says Lloyd Webber: ” ‘Sound of Music’ then becomes a musical about a girl who doesn’t know what’s happening. She’s told to leave the convent on a temporary basis and go and become an au pair for this captain who’s engaged to be married to someone twice her age.”

The reality-TV show would hope to grab the primetime small-screen audience, leading ideally to brisk biz for a stage revival “at the moment penciled in, and with a pretty black pencil,” says Lloyd Webber, for an October bow at the Palladium; no director has been signed. (Neither Trevor Nunn nor Steven Pimlott, both of whom were mooted at various times, have formally come onboard.)

And what of Scarlett Johansson, who was everyone’s favorite Maria for a while (and who can sing, says Lloyd Webber)?

“I talked to her a lot about it, but we couldn’t agree with her people financially.”

All of which leaves the door open for some as yet unsung person, between 18 and 25, to sing her heart out center stage late next year.

More TV

  • Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker,

    Nonsense Ellen DeGeneres Question Derails an Otherwise Substantive Democratic Debate (Column)

    The fourth Democratic debate was dangerously close to being substantive. For almost three (3!) hours, the twelve (12!) candidates onstage tackled questions on foreign policy, reproductive rights, health care, gun control, big tech, and the opioid crisis. While the other debates — and indeed, the entire 2016 presidential campaign — have been marked by meme-able [...]

  • Pictured (l-r): Doug Jones as Lieutenant

    Mipcom Roundup: E4 Buys 'Star Trek: Discovery'; All3Media Sells Drama Package

    In Variety’s fourth Mipcom roundup, E4 buys U.K. linear rights to “Star Trek: Discovery,” All3Media sells drama package to Pickbox Now, African broadcasters buy 800 hours of content from BBC Studios, France’s Serieclub acquires offbeat Norwegian comedy, ZDF and Red Balloon team for young adult book adaptation, and Viacom and Youku partner on kids’ animation. [...]


    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Music Video Agreement for Performers

    SAG-AFTRA’s national board has approved unanimously an agreement with major record labels on a three-year successor contract to their music video agreement. The new agreement is effective retroactively from May 1, 2019, through April 30, 2022. The major labels party to the agreement are Warner Records, Atlantic Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Capitol [...]

  • Darren Star, Canneseries 2020 season 03

    Darren Star Reflects on His Iconic Shows And Teases 'Emily in Paris' at Mipcom

    Darren Star, the creator of “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place” and “Sex and the City” who was celebrated at Mipcom on Monday and named patron of the upcoming Canneseries festival, said the iconic TV series he created struck a chord throughout the world because of their relatable characters and cultural grounding. “I never thought of [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren,

    How to Watch the Fourth Democratic Primary Debate

    For the first time since Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the top 12 Democratic primary candidates will take part in a debate. This marks the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 campaign season. The event is co-hosted by CNN and the New York Times and will be held at Otterbein [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content