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Streets are alive for Webber's ‘Sound of Music’

Thousands turn out for London casting call by ‘Phantom’ composer
/ Source: The Associated Press

The streets were alive with the sound of children.

Thousands of youngsters stood in line to audition for the roles of the Von Trapp children in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical “The Sound of Music.”

Lloyd Webber, composer of hit musicals like “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera,” held open auditions for the parts of six of the Von Trapp children, ranging from age 5 to 14.

By early Thursday, more than 2,000 youngsters were in line outside the Palladium Theatre and hoping for a part in the production, which will debut in London’s West End. By later in the day, the number had doubled.

Among the first in line were Richard Smith and Natasha Bernard, both 13, who have already played siblings Jeremy and Jemima in the musical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

“We both had butterflies this morning. I was a bit unsure about reaching the high notes, but we both got recalls,” said Richard, from Luton, north of London.

Rosa O’Reilly, 16, from Kingston-on-Thames, west of London, auditioned for the part of Louisa, despite being three years older than the character. After singing “On My Own” from “Les Miserables,” she, too, was asked to attend a second audition.

“I’ve never done any of these auditions before because I haven’t got my own agent and usually there’s no open casting,” she said. “I just heard about it on the radio yesterday and thought this is my last chance.”

Ros Jones, who ran the auditions, said producers were initially looking for “people who can sing in tune and just have that little bit extra, that spark and that enthusiasm.”

Lloyd Webber said he decided on open auditions after realizing that composer Richard Rodgers was not happy with the casting of the original stage production.

“This is great for kids that come from any walk of life, not necessarily just showbusiness kids,” he said.

The second round of auditions will be held in a month.