Elicia MacKenzie appears as Maria, (centre), with the von Trapp children in the Toronto production of The Sound of Music. ((Cylla von Tiedemann/Mirvish))

The curtain rises Wednesday on the North American revival of The Sound of Music by London theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber and Toronto's David Mirvish.

Opening night will be a test for Vancouver's Elicia MacKenzie, who won the role of Maria in the CBC-TV contest How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

MacKenzie, chosen July 28 after a six-month process of grooming contestants, was voted the most lovable Maria by Canadian TV viewers.

A relatively inexperienced actress, she has been cast against Burke Moses, playing Capt. von Trapp. Moses is a Bostonian who had the role of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast in both New York and London's West End.

Other experienced cast members include mezzo-soprano Noella Huet, playing the Mother Abbess, and Blythe Wilson, a star of the Shaw and Stratford festivals, as the Baroness.


Blythe Wilson has the role of Baroness Schraeder and Burke Moses as Capt. von Trapp. ((Cylla von Tiedemann/Mirvish))

Director Jeremy Sams is managing a cast of 51, including two children to play each of the von Trapp children.

But the lavish production opening at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre will also be a test of the taste for a musical that's almost 50 years old.

The original Rodgers & Hammerstein musical opened on Broadway in 1959 and so enthralled a young Lloyd Webber in its London production that he decided to devote his life to musical theatre.

The version being mounted in Toronto is based on Lloyd Webber's revival of The Sound of Music mounted in London in 2006 after a British version of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Lloyd Webber said he did not want to create a stage version of the much-loved film.

This version adds Something Good, a song that was created for the film, but also stages My Favourite Things as a duet for Maria and the Mother Abbess, in a nod to the original Broadway production.

The Sound of Music is one of the world's most beloved musicals, both in North America and Britain, and the nostalgia effect alone may be enough to ensure the popularity of this production.

But much still rests on the talents of MacKenzie, who as Maria appears in nearly every scene.

The Sound of Music has been playing in preview since Oct. 3 and is scheduled to run through Jan. 11 at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto.