The talent search to find Canada's Maria von Trapp stopped in Winnipeg, where 62 young female singers were trying out for a Toronto stage production of The Sound of Music. The auditions are being filmed as part of a new eight-part CBC reality television series called How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria!, to be aired next summer.
One of the problem-solvers who showed up was Samantha Hill, a promising 20-year-old University of Winnipeg theatre student who sang one of the musical's signature songs, My Favorite Things, to Toronto casting director Stephanie Gorin.
"I think you're really talented and we want you to come to Toronto," Gorin told Hill, who broke into a broad smile at the news.
After Hill left the audition room at the airport hotel, Gorin added, "She really stood out. To me she was special. She is one of the best that we have seen anywhere so far."
Outside, Hill was a little stunned, mostly about making the cut, but also with the realization that the Toronto auditions conflict with Pericles, next month's U of W production in which she has a lead role.
"I'm very excited but I don't know if I can go," says Hill, who has appeared in Shakespeare in the Ruin's Head and Dry Cold's Nine. "The next round is during my show. It's good I got to prove that I have what it takes to be Maria, I guess."
It was that kind of day: elation for some, disappointment for more. Only 13, including seven Winnipeggers, are Toronto-bound.
An actress who is currently performing in MametFest auditioned unsuccessfully. Many of the wannabe Marias spoke about how they identified with the character made famous on the big screen by Julie Andrews. One vocalist said Maria reminded her of her grandmother. Gorin kidded one auditioner for adding words she had never heard before in Over the Rainbow.
Robin Burlingham, 22, jumped in the air at being told she made the cut.
"I just got into law school but this is so much better," she said.
Trista Roininen, a 22-year-old blond singer endured a 12-hour ride from Thunder Bay in her boyfriend's father's semi-trailer to make the try-outs.
"It was a long trip but it was totally worth it," she said afterwards. "It wasn't a waste by any means."
Lauren Harris, 19, travelled from her parent's farm in Stonewall and performed a beautiful rendition of Maria's I Have Confidence, a popular audition piece.
"It definitely helps when you think about the words," she said. "Boy, it would be crazy to be Maria. My family is kind of obsessed with The Sound of Music. I can't believe this."