Sheffield hills are alive with music of Danielle

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Over the Rainbow star Danielle Hope has well and truly broken the old showbiz adage never work with children and animals as she has 21 youngsters to deal with in The Sound of Music!

Danielle, who won the BBC TV search for an actress to play Dorothy in the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage production of The Wizard of Oz, takes on the role of Maria at the Lyceum.

She has to act alongside three different teams of youngsters playing the seven Von Trapp children on the tour because of the restrictions on working hours for child actors.

Of course, she’s already had to cope with dogs playing Toto in The Wizard of Oz.

Danielle joked: “They say never to work with children and animals and I’ve done both on my first two jobs! Working with three teams of kids has been wonderful and very interesting for me.

“The different children do change the show and I have to work with my relationships with them on and off stage.”

Danielle once again find herself creating a famous role in the much-loved musical. She said: “Maria has such a huge transformation in two and a half hours from the beginning of the show. She’s this free spirit, full of light and youth, who then finds herself falling in love.

“You see her grow. She’s this free spirit who loves to live. She doesn’t see the bad in anything.

“Everything comes from joy and love and I’m trying to be as open and honest as I can. I like her very much!

“She thinks that’s got to challenge her love for God, then she’s going through these love scenes with the baron and becoming a baroness.

“She really does transform and has to become the mother as well. I’m loving playing that. I’m motherly naturally anyway.”

Danielle is a big fan of the film version of The Sound of Music, which is now 50 years old. “I used to watch it with my grandmother. Julie Andrews is my hero, in terms of inspiration for my entire career.

“Mary Poppins is my all-time favourite film. I think Maria and Mary Poppins are an extension of each other.

“I love the diction and clarity of Julie Andrews’ voice as well. It’s something I have tried to work on myself.”

The Cheshire lass said it’s amazing how her life has changed in the five years since since Over the Rainbow, which she only entered to get some professional experience.

“It’s about this time of year when I had my first audition. I was doing A-levels which were mostly performing arts and did it as a pre-drama college preparation.

“This was not really my bag, I never watched X Factor or anything like that.”

Danielle said she was amazed to get through the early rounds and into the live show.

“I missed my drama auditions and went on through the programme and what an experience with the live audience and appearing live on TV.

“It’s an experience I wouldn’t have had in a lifetime otherwise.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Danielle has never watched her performances. She said: “I wanted to keep how I experienced it in my head as it was, rather than what the audience thought.”

Following the TV show and her professional debut as Dorothy at the London Palladium, Danielle went on to play Eponine in Les Miserables and the narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

As well as her acting career, Danielle is developing a solo singing career and is off to New York to make her solo debut there, cutting short her time in Sheffield.

She said: “It’s something I’ve been working on for a long time. I’m doing a solo concert at 54 Below on Broadway. It’s my life’s ambition to live and work in the US,. My boyfriend is American.”

She has some star backing for the move: “Michael Crawford is helping me put it together. He gave me the confidence and ?? of doing this in New York. I’m very grateful to him.

“I’m having crazy anxiety dreams about it every night. As I’m on tour of course I don’t wake up in my own room, so I’m very confused!”

The Sound of Music is at the Lyceum now, with Sheffield actor Steven Houghton (London’s Burning) as Captain Von Trapp. The show runs until Saturday (February 14).

Box office: at the Crucible, online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call 0114 249 6000.