Ten contenders left in Lloyd Webber’s Maria search

Liz Thomas

The ten finalists for the BBC/Really Useful Group talent search How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? include an police intelligence officer, a fashion student and a Romanian actress.

Despite courting controversy with performing community when it was first announced, the show, which aims to find a Maria for the forthcoming West End remake of the Sound of Music, has proved hugely popular with viewers.

The remaining ten, who are a mix of classically trained performers and amateurs, will now compete for public votes in order to secure the role that Julie Andrews made famous in the 1965 film. The contestants have already been through gruelling regional auditions just to make it on the show and in the first two episodes faced tough criticism from the panel of judges, which include Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian.

Emilie Alford, who made it through to the final ten, dropped out because she did not want to be a stage singer, she has been replaced by Siobahn Dillon.

The full list of finalists and their backgrounds is below:

Abi Finley, 23

From: Prestwich, Manchester.

Occupation: Student.

Family: Abi has two sisters, Marian and Bex, and loves being the middle child.

Experience: MA Acting and Musical Theatre (Central School of Speech and Drama) and lots of amateur dramatics.

Aoife Mulholland, 28

From : Salthill, Galway.

Occupation: Student.

Family: Two brothers Alan and Eddie and sister Lisa. She is the youngest of the four.

Experience: Music Degree from University College Dublin, MA Acting Musical Theatre (Central School of Speech and Drama), ex-lead singer in funk/jazz band, lots of amateur dramatics.

Belinda Evans, 28

From: Somerset.

Occupation: Singer/voice coach.

Family: Two older sisters Denise and Michele, and younger brother Tom.

Experience: Masters degree in Music from the Welsh College of Music and Drama, professional singer recitals and television performances, part-time vocal coach.

Connie Fisher, 23

From : Pembrokeshire, Wales but now lives in London.

Occupation: Telesales and acting.

Family: Only child.

Experience: Mountview Theatre School, 1st BA Hons Musical Theatre.

Helena Blackman, 23

From : Southampton, but now lives in London.

Occupation: Performer and waitress.

Family: Younger sister Clare.

Experience: Professional for two years. Went to Guildhall School of Acting.

Laura Sicurello, 26

From: Milton Keynes.

Occupation: Police Intelligence Officer.

Family: Older sister Joanna, the name Sicurello is Sicillian like her father.

Experience: Singing lessons for two years when young. Totally untrained voice. Some amateur theatre performances since age eight.

Leanne Dobinson, 20

From : Colchester, Essex.

Occupation: Unemployed.

Family: Two younger sisters Danielle and Shannon.

Experience: Singing lessons age 12-15. Self-taught to sing in Italian, French, German and Latin.

Meliz Serman, 23

From: Chingford, London.

Occupation: Worked as a fashion PA for four years.

Family: Younger sister Yeliz and brother Taylan, from a Turkish-Cypriot family.

Experience: BMus and Masters in Music Performance and BA Hons Music (City University). Voice training at Guildhall.

Simona Armstrong, 28

From : Romania. Lived in Glasgow and now in Greenford, London.

Occupation: Actress/receptionist.

Family: Two sisters – one older and one younger, and Scottish husband Ian.

Experience: Vocal training at Bucharest Academy. Acting roles in Romania and the UK.

Siobhan Dillon, 21 – The replacement for Emma Alford

From: Staffordshire.

Occupation: London College of Fashion student/promotions girl.

Family: Younger brother Liam.

Experience: Singing lessons age 10-15.

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