Sunday, 28 March 2010

Over The Rainbow vs X-Factor

With Rachel set to debut as Elphaba TOMORROW NIGHT (!!!!), it's a good time to mention the new BBC 'Search for Dorothy' contest 'Over The Rainbow.'

Below I've featured an excellent article from, rightly championing shows such as IDA, Maria & Joseph over money-making dross such as X-Factor. Not that Musical Theatre isn't money-making of course, but the respective results speak for themselves -- at least 8 of the 12 IDA finalists landed major roles and most are still big successes two years on. By contrast, almost a decade of X-Factor has produced barely a handful of big names and the only real winner has been Simon Cowell and his various hangers on. Sorry to be cynical, but the Musical Theatre shows have showcased and produced a lot of genuine talent, not least the subject of this blog, whilst X-Factor has produced a lot of tedious karaoke clones who are largely forgotten within weeks.

Sure X-Factor gets big ratings, but so did Big Brother at it's height -- quantity doesn't always mean quality.

Dorothy is shaping up to be another great series and if myself and Andy are anything to go by, shows such as IDA put bums on seats which would otherwise never have been there, whilst showcasing the joy of Musical Theatre to the nation.

Enough from me -- here's the article:

Over the Rainbow is a talent show worth taking seriously

Graham Norton and Andrew Lloyd Webber are looking for Dorothy in BBC1’s over the Rainbow.

When Jedward were dropped after one single, few people were surprised. Television talent shows are not, after all, expected to regularly churn out stars that can survive in the real world – for every Leona Lewis there is a corresponding Leon Jackson. And yet those keen to ensure the future of live theatre are rather less dismissive of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hunt for a new Dorothy, which begins on BBC1 tonight. In fact, over the Rainbow and its ilk may well be the best thing to have happened to UK theatre and live performance for some time.

Should you fancy a credible career in the performing arts, and have the talent to back it up, then battling to be Lloyd Webber’s Dorothy in his new production of The Wizard of Oz might be a pretty smart move. Connie Fisher, Lee Mead and Jodie Prenger have all gone on to lead WestEnd shows – but those who didn’t win the competition have also carved great careers for themselves. Fourth-placed Nancy Rachel Tucker is about to embark on the challenge of Elphaba in Wicked; fifth-placed Niamh Perry is creating the part of Fleck in Love never Dies. Of the Josephs, everyone seems to have forgotten that Daniel Boys first came to prominence through any Dream Will Do? – mainly because his work in Avenue Q over the past two years speaks for itself. Former Maria Aoife Mulholland, meanwhile, is now flashing the best abs in the business on a nightly basis at the Savoy Theatre as Brooke Wyndham in Legally Blonde.

And before the complaints that reality TV casting offers shortcuts into showbusiness, allowing untrained amateurs to leapfrog hardworking professionals, remember that many of the Lloydd-Webber alumni have had training or some kind of professional experience. Fisher had graduated from drama school; Mead had been part of the company of Phantom Of The Opera; Prenger had been working as a cabaret singer. Those who didn’t have training – Nancy runner-up Jessie Buckley notoriously bewailed her multiple rejections from drama school – clearly have talent that would lead to success anyway, regardless of whether or not they were on the telly.

In any case, whether or not you approve of the way in which these actors have been cast, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that UK theatre ticket sales are up – and a big weekend reality series must have played a part in that. (Let’s face it, we’ve all seen enough productions of The Sounds of Music, Joseph and Oliver! to never really need to see them again). And yet, we all have been – for which we all owe a debt of thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber. No, really, we do.

No comments: