Problem solved: Elicia MacKenzie has been chosen to portray novitiate-turned-nanny Maria von Trapp in the upcoming Toronto stage production of The Sound of Music.
The New Brunswick-born actress, who is a resident of Vancouver and a graduate of North Vancouver's Capilano College, was named the winner of CBC-TV's star-search show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? on Monday night's final episode.
MacKenzie broke out into song shortly after the live show ended, singing "I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in me!" to reporters.
"They started calling me the dark horse as the performances proceeded with the live show, and I started to just get out there and show my stuff, and I think people were really surprised by it," she added.
As with the British original co-created by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Canadian version saw the U.K. theatre mogul offer guidance to contestants vying for the lead in a stage production of the musical. He also came to Canada to coach the remaining competitors through the final few episodes.
Lloyd Webber also referred to MacKenzie's dark horse status over the course of the competition and praised her feisty spark.
"I think she is delicious. I think she's unaffected, has all of the naivety, the optimism and everything that Maria needs," he said.
"I also think she's got the backbone and I think you absolutely would believe that not only could she make all the children fall in love with her, she could make the captain fall in love with her and would be able to be the one who pushes him over the edge about the decision to leave Austria."
After weeks of audience voting — via phone, text message and the internet — competitors were eliminated until only three remained.
Previews begin in October
On Sunday night, show host Gavin Crawford revealed that rival Janna Polzin of Woodstock, Ont., had received the highest number of audience votes last week, which guaranteed her a spot in the final two.
This left Webber to choose the second finalist, and he picked MacKenzie over Jayme Armstrong of Richmond, B.C.
"No matter what, this has been an amazing experience. We've gotten to work with so many amazing people. We got to work with Andrew Lloyd Webber. We got to go to Europe twice," MacKenzie told CBC News earlier on Monday morning.
MacKenzie, 23, will now rehearse for an upcoming production of The Sound of Music, which will be staged this fall by Lloyd Webber, David Ian and Canadian theatre impresario David Mirvish at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre. Previews begin Oct. 3.
In 1959, The Sound of Music made its debut as a Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical starring Mary Martin as Maria. It gained an international audience with the release of the 1965 film adaptation starring Julie Andrews.