Singer aims for top West End role

HOW do you solve a problem like Maria? One Colchester singer hopes she has the answer as she begins her bid for a major stage role tonight.Leanne Dobinson, 20, is one of 10 finalists on a new BBC1 series, which aims to help West End composer Andrew Lloyd Webber find a new star to launch his upcoming stage production of The Sound of Music.

HOW do you solve a problem like Maria? One Colchester singer hopes she has the answer as she begins her bid for a major stage role tonight.

Leanne Dobinson, 20, is one of 10 finalists on a new BBC1 series, which aims to help West End composer Andrew Lloyd Webber find a new star to launch his upcoming stage production of The Sound of Music.

The first live show begins at 6.50pm and Leanne revealed she has been so busy rehearsing and doing interviews that she had almost forgotten that she would be singing in front of millions of people on television - as well as a panel of intimidating judges.

She said: “I am so excited and absolutely terrified. It is funny to think that one of us is going to go home. It's down to what the public feel about each of the girls.”


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The girls will be eliminated one by one by the public vote until a single girl is left and the show has its Maria.

Leanne, who grew up in Chelmsford before moving to Colchester two years ago, said that she was proud to be associated with the Essex town.

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She added: “I absolutely love Colchester, it is a really beautiful town and all my friends are from there. The people are just so friendly.”

After acquiring an early taste for music and singing, thanks to a devoted singing teacher, Leanne won several music festivals in the area thanks to her voice.

However, she admitted that after her tutor died and she drifted away from singing, she was distracted by other things.

She said: “When I went to study music at Colchester Institute, I hated it because they slated my old singing teacher, so I left.

“I was working in a shop in Colchester but had my hours cut shortly before the audition. Now I'm going to grasp this with both hands because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for someone like me.”

Leanne has two sisters, Danielle, 16, and Shannon, 12, and said that they were all excited about the television show.

The 10 contestants are studying and living together at “Maria School”, which Leanne said was helping them focus.

She said: “It is hard to see what is happening in the real world, I was feeling all right until I did my first interview but now I'm really nervous.

“I spent my birthday in Maria School, and Andrew Lloyd Webber sung me Happy Birthday, it was surreal.

“The way they have done it may make it look like there's some bitchiness, but they're trying to spice it up because we all really get along.

“If I do go out this week, I'll know that I have done my best and can walk with my head held high.”

But she said that not everything this week had gone to plan - at one point she accidentally fell into the orchestra pit during one rehearsal.

“We were filming the pilot show and I lost my balance and fell into the pit and landed on a lamp. All the way through the show people kept expecting me to do it again,” said Leanne.

“I had been worrying that one of us would do it, but it ended up being me.”

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