Former EastEnders actress Kara Tointon is about to follow in Julie Andrews footsteps by playing Maria in The Sound of Music. And in an exciting twist the spectacular studio production will be shown live on ITV (Sunday, December 20, 7.30pm).

The iconic musical, which features the Rodgers and Hammerstein hits Do-Re-Mi and My Favourite Things, also stars Downton Abbey’s Julian Ovenden as Captain von Trapp, former Corrie star Katherine Kelly as the Baroness and Pointless presenter Alexander Armstrong as Uncle Max.

What’s On TV’s Nick Cannon caught up with Kara during rehearsals as she prepared for the big live show…

The Sound of Music Live! seems like an ambitious project. How did you feel about taking it on?
“My initial reaction when I got the part of Maria was, ‘Oh no! What have I done?’ But then I thought I either turn it down and regret it or take a leap of faith and enjoy the ride. It’s definitely a little bit wild and different and out of everybody’s comfort zone!”

Are you a fan of the original film?
“Yes big time! For me, The Sound of Music is the all-time greatest musical. In a way it’s very dangerous because when a film’s done so perfectly I always think why would you even touch it? But The Sound of Music actually started off as a piece of theatre and what we’re doing is very different from the film. Hollywood made quite a lot of changes to it, so it’s nice to be doing the original version.”

The musical features some iconic songs. What have been the most challenging to learn?
“I’m definitely coming into this as an actress who sings rather than the other way around! All the songs have little challenges, but I think my favourite song is probably Something Good, although that’s the one I probably find most challenging because it’s very intimate. I’m just going to have to do my best.”

How’s your yodelling for The Lonely Goatherd song?
“I’m very good at the yodelling. In fact that might be my best bit… I don’t need to work on that at all!”

We hear you went to Salzburg and visited the famous Nonnberg Abbey for research. How was that?
“Yes, Julian and I went to Salzburg for the day and just being in the atmosphere of Austria was so worth it. We got to go to Nonnberg Abbey and listen to the nuns singing. It was so lovely and peaceful and it really gave me a sense of what it’s like to be a nun.”

Have you ever met the legendary Julie Andrews, who made Maria so memorable in the 1965 film?
“I think I’d drop dead if I did! She and Doris Day were my all-time idols growing up, so I’d definitely be starstruck if I ever met her! But I can’t even think about her while I’m doing this because there’s no point in trying to do something similar to her. I had it in my head that they were going to chop off my hair and I was going to be blonde, but I’ve actually got a long plait and I look about 12 years old! But it’s wise not to attempt to try and emulate something that was done so perfectly.”

We hear your stage debut was as a girl in an am-dram production of The Sound of Music. Is that right?
“Yeah, when I was about 12 I played Liesl. That was the beginnings of me wanting to go into this crazy world, so it’s funny how things come around.”

Since the show is going out live, how are you going to handle the nerves?
“I’ll just have to go with the flow because you can’t just curl up in a little ball! I’m going to embrace it and all the emotions that go with it. At the moment I can’t get through some of the songs without crying, so that’s kind of dramatic! But what will be will be. Once we’re there I hope we just enjoy it.”

The Sound of Music Live! will be shown on Sunday, December 20 on ITV at 7.30pm