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JESS MCALLEN
Last updated 13:59 30/06/2014
The Sound of Music
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ

ON TOP OF THE HILL: Venice Harris, Aria Ferris, Melody Lui-Webster, Antonia Robinson, Alexander Lake-Smith, Matthew Turner and Kate Sampson are all playing roles as the von Trapp children in the upcoming musical The Sound of Music which will be performed in Auckland and Wellington.

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The hills were alive, not with music but excited children, as New Zealand's cast for the London production of The Sound of Music was revealed.

After a search involving 1000 young performers singing, dancing and acting, the Kiwi von Trapps met for the first time at Auckland's North Head hill.

There will be 18 young New Zealanders playing six of the seven children (an international actor is playing the oldest von Trapp, Liesl).

Aria Ferris is one of three children playing Marta. It is the nine-year-old's first professional show and she's nervous about playing the "little lady who wants a pink parasol and is very polite".

Aria is also relishing the chance to perform in front of a real audience, saying it will be a welcome change from her usual stage of choice: the lounge.

"I like pretending I'm on stage, I like acting, dancing, using a hairbrush as a microphone."

And she already has garnered wisdom from her pursuits: "If you get knocked down once, pick yourself up and do it again. I auditioned for Annie and was shortlisted but didn't get a role."

Aria was pleasantly surprised upon meeting her fellow cast members, thinking they would be shy - instead they chatted away like family, playing games and dancing.

Training will start full-time in early August and the children will stay in hotels when not in their home towns.

The musical, based on a true story, explores the tale of Maria, the fun-loving governess who changes the lives of the widowed Captain von Trapp and his seven children by re-introducing them to music, before fleeing from the Nazis, trekking across the alps from Austria to Switzerland.

International opera star Lesley Garrett, who has released 14 solo CDs, is playing Mother Abbess.

Maria will be played by Bethany Dickson who was last in New Zealand when she played the role of Sandy in Grease.

The production opens at Wellington's St James Theatre on September 12 and in Auckland's Civic Theatre on October 3.

THE KIWI CAST

Gretl: Bronte Walshe (Lower Hutt), Ella Robertson (Wellington), Venice Harris (Tauranga)

Marta: Aria Ferris (Auckland), Melody Lui-Webster (Auckland), Amelia Walshe (Lower Hutt)

Brigitta: Tara Canton (Lower Hutt), Brooke Raitt (Wellington), Antonia Robinson (Auckland)

Kurt: Jaxson Cook (Lower Hutt), Felix Star (Brisbane), Alexander Lake-Smith (Auckland)

Louisa: Daisy Maguire (Wellington), Sophie Parkinson (Wellington), Kate Sampson (Auckland)

Friedrich: Matthew Turner (Auckland), Finn Wilson (Auckland), Julian Peddie (Auckland) 

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