The hills are alive with the sound of music-al theatre

MUSICAL theatre star Emilie Fleming is on her first UK tour with The Sound of Music – and says she’s passionate about taking big shows out of the capital.

“Touring is so important,” says the singer who came to national attention in the TV talent show Over the Rainbow. “I grew up in a working class family in South Shields and I couldn’t afford to come down to London.

Emilie Fleming as Maria, with the von Trapp children

“I’ll never forget when I saw Miss Saigon at the Sunderland Empire and I cried the whole way home in the car. If I hadn’t had those shows touring to local venues, I may never have discovered that I wanted to perform.

“I think it’s hugely important to encourage the new generation, to expose them to theatre and music. More and more music and the arts is being cut in schools, so we’ve really got to take the tours to as many venues as possible.”

Emilie was also inspired by films – especially the 1965 classic The Sound of Music, which was based on the original 1959 stage show of the same name.

It’s the tale of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family in Austria while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children, and eventually their widowed father, Captain von Trapp.

“I couldn’t tell you what age I was when I first saw the film,” says Emilie. “I know that I was very young, and I watched it over and over and over again.”

She’s now taking on the iconic role made famous in the film by Julie Andrews. “I’m just in awe of her,” she says. “When you see her portray this role, there’s just so much detail. You can hear every single detail of every single word.

“I definitely take all of that in my own journey as well, vocally, but there’s no way I or anyone could impersonate Julie Andrews.”

Emilie’s favourite from the well-known songs packed into the show is Sixteen Going on Seventeen. She says: “It’s just Maria and the eldest von Trapp daughter, Liesl – a moment for a woman to speak to another woman in a really kind and generous way.”

At the age of 19, Emilie was one of the contestants in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC One search for an actor to play Dorothy in his musical Over the Rainbow.

“It was mind‐blowing,” she recalls. “I still look at it and think ‘did that happen?’ It was, obviously, overwhelming. Actually, I didn’t really want to go to the audition because I already had a place at Guildford School of Acting.”

“It was my sister that really wanted to go, but she was too young. My mum said ‘one of you has to go, this is an amazing opportunity’. So I ended up going.”

Emilie stars in The Sound of Music at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Tuesday to Saturday next week, 10-14 March.

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