Hollyoaks actress Summer Strallen has admitted that she struggled to keep quiet about the real reason why she had been cast in the Channel 4 soap.

Last week, viewers saw her character, Summer Shaw, audition for Andrew Lloyd Webber and land the role as Maria in The Sound Of Music.

But it was then revealed that the theatre impresario had in fact picked her to star in the West End show six months earlier – and thought it would be a good idea to use Hollyoaks to merge fact with fiction.

Strallen replaces Connie Fisher, who landed the role after winning the BBC’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

As Strallen prepares to leave behind the Liverpool-based soap for London’s Theatreland, she has admitted that she found it tough keeping her future plans a secret.

“It was so hard!,” she said. “In the West End a rumour gets around in a minute because it is such a close circle of people. The only people that knew for about two months were my boyfriend and my best friend.”

Luckily, the Hollyoaks role provided the perfect cover story. She said: “I told my family that my agent had been in touch with Hollyoaks and asked if there was anything free, and that that’s how I got the part.”

Strallen also admitted that she was shocked when she was first told how the storyline would pan out.

She said: “I had two auditions and then my agent said: ‘The situation is, you are going up to Liverpool in two weeks time to play the part of Summer in Hollyoaks where you will be involved in a storyline with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Then you will go on to play Maria in The Sound Of Music’.”

Strallen is thrilled to be taking over the reigns from Connie. “I love doing musicals although I don’t want to rule out film and TV,” she said. “And if they start making musical films then that would be great all my Christmas’s would come at once!”