The Sound of Music is one of the best-loved musicals and is set to tour the UK again this New Year.
Performing at the New Alexandra, in Birmingham, from Tuesday, January 16 until Saturday, January 20, former EastEnder Neil McDermott talks to Marion McMullen about some of his favourite things as he goes on tour with the show.
You made a big impact as Ryan Malloy in EastEnders. Do people still associate you with your soap character?
(Laughs) I get recognised a bit sometimes. I've been out quite a while now, although I've popped back a few times. People are usually very nice and they come along and say hello if they see me.
What's it like now playing the romantic lead in The Sound Of Music?
I've played quite a few baddies and villains over the years and it's really lovely to play this heroic character.
Captain Von Trapp is such an iconic role. It's fantastic really. (Laughs) My son Roddy is four and he always plays the bad guy even when he is playing shepherd one in the nativity play.
He still attacks the role like the villain. Maybe, next time he will play the hero.
Does he enjoy football like you?
His grandad has been trying to convince him to be a Chelsea supporter. I was brought up in Liverpool and I'm an Everton supporter.
Mum and dad were Londoners, but my dad's job took him to Liverpool when we were children.
We were there long enough to choose our football teams before we moved back down south.
Have both your children inherited the acting bug?
Both come along to the youth theatre that my wife and I run. My daughter Arrabella is six and loves dancing and both of them really enjoy performing.
I think it all really helps with giving children confidence if they can speak in public and before an audience.
Is it true American TV show The Sopranos was the inspiration for your daughter's name?
(Chuckles) It's sort of true. My wife (actress Michelle Edwards) and I were looking for names and we were both watching The Sopranos.
Arrabella was the name, not of an actress, but one of the characters and we thought it sounded quite nice and unusual.
Will your children see you in The Sound Of Music?
They will do. They will definitely come along and see some of the shows on the tour.
They came nearly the whole summer to see me playing Chief Weasel in The Wind In The Willows at the London Palladium and loved that. This is my first major tour, but I'll get home as much as I can.
Do you know The Sound Of Music well?
Many years ago, maybe 10 or 11, I was in the production at the London Palladium playing the role of Rolf.
It's a show close to my heart. It was my first big West End show and to revisit it to play Captain Von Trapp is just wonderful.
I watched the film version back when I was playing Rolf and Alex Hanson played the Captain then at the London Palladium.
He's such a great actor and I watched many of his performances. I hope I can bring something fresh to the songs and story.
What do you think is the enduring appeal of the musical?
At the end of the day, the music and the story are so strong and that's why it has stood the test of time.
The story is at the heart of it all and the story is all about Maria and the Captain.
She's the novice nun who becomes the governess of the Von Trapp family and he's a widow and a father left with seven children.
At the start, his story is one of sadness really. Maria frees him from that.
Are there a lot of children in the cast?
(Laughs) Lots of children. Only the character of Liesl stays the same. We have 18 children, three sets, playing the Von Trapp youngsters and they are all fantastic.
What will you be packing to take on tour with you?
I will be taking a steamer along for my voice and I normally go to the gym when I can although if depends on the role I'm playing.
A few of them can be quite an exercise in themselves. Wind In The Willows was a very physical role, more than anything else I've done.
The Sound Of Music is more of an emotional challenge rather than a physical one, but I'll still be popping in and out of the gym when I can.
What have been among your favourite stage roles?
I played Lord Farquaad in the Shrek musical on my knees. My knees were okay, but the rest of me was tired from being in that position for a whole show.
It was a fantastic role though, my funniest role, and my favourite role in musical theatre. I had a lot of fun playing Lord Farquaad.
And in the words of the song, what are a few of your favourite things?
(Laughs) Haribo, football and my children.
Go to www.atgtickets.com for more Sound Of Music tour dates.