Carmen Pretorius has grown up acting, singing and dancing.  “I know this is a really clichéd thing to say! But I really don’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t sing,” says the South African singer who will take on the iconic role of Maria in the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of The [...]


Stepping into Maria’s shoes from Liesl’s with confidence


Carmen Pretorius has grown up acting, singing and dancing.  “I know this is a really clichéd thing to say! But I really don’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t sing,” says the South African singer who will take on the iconic role of Maria in the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of The Sound of Music that will hit the Colombo stage next month.

Relishing her role: Carmen Pretorius. Pix by Sameera Weerasekera

Having started vocal lessons at the age of six, Carmen informs us that her role models at the time were pop sensations Britney Spears and the Spice Girls.

These past months, Carmen has climbed the Alps as both Liesl Von Trapp and now Maria. From February 14 to 18, the well-loved family musical will make seven appearances at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre – with five shows and two matinees. The Really Useful Group production of The Sound of Music is presented  by Cinnamon Life in partnership with David Ian Productions Ltd, Company Onstage Ltd and the Broadway Asia Company LLC.

This production will mark the third tour of the show in Asia, with the theatre company having previously performed in venues in China, New Zealand, Jakarta, Maui, Hong Kong, Manila and Macau to name a few.

Sitting down with the Sunday Times, Carmen shares that her passion for acting took root in her teens. “I fell in love with all three disciplines after taking part in my high school theatre productions such as ‘Me and My Girl’ and ‘Hello, Dolly!’

Her big break came in the role of Gabriella Montez when she won the MNET reality series, ‘High School Musical: Spotlight South Africa’. Securing an agent, she soon demonstrated her versatility taking on diverse roles such as the shy Gabrielle (High School Musical) and the rebellious Reverend’s daughter Ariel (Footloose), Sophie Sheridan in Mamma Mia!  starring too in productions like Cabaret and Jersey Boys etc.

Trading her ballet flats from “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” as the oldest Von Trapp child Liesl, she took on Maria from the company’s second tour itself comfortably making the classic role of the optimistic postulant nun turned governess turned wife and mother who remains a classic icon in the theatre and film industry, her own.  The transition from Liesl to Maria has been “incredibly exciting,” Carmen says. The role of Maria “makes me feel alive,” she declares.

“Undoubtedly the role of Maria has been made iconic by Julie Andrews,” Carmen states however adding “I try not to be influenced by her portrayal. Your director and you have to get together and create a ‘real role’ for you to embody. Their guidance can ultimately help the actor create delicious visuals of the story.”

Carmen shares that the sincerity and simplicityof the song “Something Good” makes it one of the  more memorable moments in the play for her.

However with a laugh she adds that “I have confidence” is one of her more ‘deadly’ scenes. “I have to swing a guitar and a bag and although watching the choreography it seems so simple the thought of knocking myself out when I start the scene always crosses my mind.”

Having spent months touring Carmen is still excited for each performance attributing a greater portion of it to the kids who “teach us a lot more than we teach them.” Touring and performing with different casts of children in each country, Carmen describes her experience with them like a “ship which sails through different phases.”

However touring internationally has its drawbacks -“being away from home is hard,” she says confessing to greatly missing her loved ones and boyfriend, who is also on tour with the cast of Evita.

Under the expert guidance of Director Jeremy Sams and Associate Director Frank Thompson, this is a production filled with nostalgia, a joyful experience for families and theatre enthusiasts.

The Sound of Music will be staged at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre from February 14 to 18. The main shows will take place at 7.30 p.m. and there will be two matinee shows on February 17 and 18 at 3 pm. Tickets are priced at Rs. 4500 (restricted view), Rs. 7,500, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 20,000. Tickets can be purchased via

Of favourite things to come

It’s showtime: The Soul Sounds on stage

Some of the stars of ‘The Sound of Music’ flew down to Colombo for the January 9 press conference at the Cinnamon Grand.  After well known choral ensemble “The Soul Sounds” performed a medley of show tunes from Broadway and the West End, Carmen Pretorius  who plays Maria Reiner and Janelle Visagie who takes the role of the Mother Abbess took the stage to give the press a taste of “The Sound of Music”.

The production is brought to Sri Lanka by Cinnamon Life in collaboration with David Ian Productions Ltd, Company Onstage Ltd and the Broadway Asia Company LLC from February 14 to 18 at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre.

A leading entertainment company David Ian Productions specialises in presenting large-scale theatrical productions in the UK, the US and internationally. Broadway Asia Company LLC founded by Broadway producers Simone Genatt and Marc Routh, is one of the largest production, management, distribution, licensing and touring companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Powerful performance: Janelle Visagie as the Mother Abbess

Present  at the event were Tourism Minister John Amaratunga, Sri Lanka Promotion Bureau Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam, Deputy Chairman of the John Keells Group Krishan Balendra, John Keells Group Vice President Brand Marketing Head Dileep Mudadeniya, John Keells Group Property Sector President Suresh Rajendra, David Ian Productions Ltd General Manager Lisa Fleming, Broadway Asia International President/Executive Producer Marc Routh, Dimo Sales General Manager Rajeev Pandithage, SriLankan Airlines CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte, British Council Country Director Gill Caldicott, Nations Trust Bank Chief Marketing Officer Shaan Wickremesinghe among others.

Speaking on what was to come from this unique partnership, Deputy Chairman of the John Keells Group Krishan Balendra said Colombo’s changing landscape will see the emergence of a consumer profile seeking interesting things to do in the city. “This initiative is the first step in an ongoing endeavour to make Colombo a city that offers high quality entertainment on a regular basis and creates a platform to attract an international audience.”

Minister John Amaratunga admitted to having watched the film at least 2 or 3 times when it came out in the 1960s.

“I fell in love with Broadway and the versatility of production,” Broadway Asia Company LLC founder Marc Routh said. “This will be the 41st country to which we bring down the production.”

Speaking on behalf of Broadway producers Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian, Lisa Fleming the General Manager of David Ian Productions Ltd shared her excitement in bringing Rogers and Hammerstein’s famous 1960 stage musical to the Sri Lankan stage. “Providing Western theatre to the local entertainment industry will put Sri Lanka on the map!” she declared.

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