An up-and-coming actress from North Belfast, who has just landed a role in a major production of a Broadway classic, is hoping her big break in musical theatre will be the first steps towards a dream West End career.
Maria Sweeney, from the Antrim Road, is currently in the thick of rehearsals for the North’s first ever professional production of The Producers.
The former Dominican College Fortwilliam student is playing the role of Ulla, full name Ulla Ingator Hansen Benson Yansen Tallen Hallen Svaden Swanson Bloom, a Swedish actress looking to make it big on Broadway.
It’s a dream that 21-year-old Maria can identify with, even if blonde bombshell Ulla is light years from Maria’s own off-stage persona.
“She is hot totty and she’s a character to really get your teeth into which is great,” said Maria.
“She is very different from what I am like, it’s a big change for me, but that’s great.”
Maria beat off stiff competition to land the role in their version of the multiple Tony award-winning Mel Brooks comedy, which has taken Broadway and the West End by storm.
The production begins next month at The Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey.
Maria, who cut her acting teeth with the renowned Fortwilliam Musical Society has just completed a course in Musical Theatre at Newcastle College in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and she hopes to go on to have a career in TV or the West End.
“I am taking a year out and getting involved in more production work at home and this is the perfect start. Rehearsals have been going really well so far, everyone is really enthusiastic. I have seen the movie about ten times and that is why I signed up because I love the movie, it is one of my favourites.
“I love researching a character and becoming that character.
“The best part of acting is the feeling of adrenaline whilst being on stage,” she said.
As well as starring Maria, the smash hit musical showcases the cream of the North’s top young performers who had to compete in an extensive audition to win one of the prized places to star in the musical, which will be directed by Peter Corry.
Maria will be joined on stage by 19-year-old Samuel Moore from Newtownabbey who plays Roger Debris, the flamboyant theatre director.
The Belfast Metropolitan College pupil says he’d love to pursue a career in the theatre and he’s looking forward to working with the fantastic professional production team of Peter Corry, NI Musical Director Wilson Shields and International Choreographer Fleur Mellor.
And Connor Taggart from Jordanstown will play Stormtrooper.
The 15-year-old would like to go on to drama school in London. He has performed in numerous stage shows and competed for a place in Ireland’s Got Talent.
The ensemble cast also has a large contingent from Newtownabbey including Connie Nicholl and Sam Morgan from Whiteabbey, Chloe Hannah Pickering, Odrán McNulty and Jenny Johnston from Newtownabbey, Rachel Irons from Jordanstown, Ruari Geehan from Glengormley, Ellen Whitehead from Jordanstown, Carrie Earley from Carnmoney, Kaitlyn Clarke from Mallusk and Suzanne Wilson from Ballyclare.
The Producers runs at the Theatre at The Mill in Newtownabbey from August 3-11.