Saturday, 15 March 2008

Do you know YOUR craft?

Show 1, tx: 15th March 2008

Welcome, all, to yet another blog. The television schedules are crammed full of light entertainment goodies at the moment, so for your delectation we're set to blog the BBC's latest free publicity vehicle for Andrew Lloyd Webber (like he needs the money...and we're the ones paying for the PR. US. OUR LICENCE FEES), I'd Do Anything.

When this show was first announced, we were promised that Lloyd Webber and his minions would be seeking a Nancy and three Olivers, but now it transpires we're not even going to get to vote on the children and thus send a bunch of pre-pubescent boys into a drink- and drugs-fuelled Mark Lester-esque depression. Still, it might still be a laugh.

Anyway, here we go. Connie bloody Fisher says, "From telesales to West End Leading Lady - who would have thought?" Everyone, you stupid mock-humble bint, you were slated for the part from the very beginning. We see lovely Shani Wallis in the film version of Oliver!; we see bloody John Barrowman doing Acting; we see some stupid woman who claims, "There's a Nancy in me, there really is", which sends me into a fit of teh lulz; teh blah.

Titles! Lots of urchins and prostitutes running around a very clean slum. Oh, that's a disappointment. Throughout HDYSAPLM and ADWD? I kept bursting into the title songs (the mock-operatic bit, mostly). The same will not be happening with this. [You wanna bet? - Louise]

Lots of auditionees. Graham Norton reassures us that we are very powerful as we get to cast Nancy. THOUGH NOT OLIVER. Lloyd Webber says, "We've broken the theatre system." Too fucking right, mate. I am beginning to despair for the future of musical theatre. How about encouraging new writing rather than buying up all the bastard theatres then staging huge productions on them to fill your pockets even further?

ALW reminds us that Connie Fisher and Lee Mead are GRATE. Connie Fisher reminds us that she is GRATE. Lee Mead has a lovely smile. [But is not GRATE, apparently. - Steve] ALW reckons that having TV talent shows has opened the door for young people who would never normally get to see him because of the way the theatre system works. And...the theatre system generally works by audition. The TV system, however, works on back stories (believe me. I've seen the application form). So though having a parent WHO IS DEAD might not get you into the audition room for straight theatre, fret not, you can be humiliated live on television every Saturday night! Norton reminds us that ALW is GRATE. [Not to worry - having a sob story has been proven not to cut much ice with the voters, who seem to be pretty sharp at spotting a lack of talent regardless - Louise][Although apparently the Great British Public do have a soft spot for talentless Scottish twunts who don't want to go back to their *sob* job at *sob* Tesco. - Georgi]

Norton introduces us to Cameron Mackintosh, who has always struck me as a sensible sort of chap. We're then told he hasn't worked with ALW for 21 years, which kind of reinforces my point. EW TOPLESS Lloyd Webber. [MY EYES! - Georgi]

This competition is tougher than ever. Right. The thousands of hopefuls will be whittled down to a smaller group to be seen by the "expert" "panel", and then the pupils of Nancy School will be selected. Then they get to perform on stage (fingers crossed at ALW's PERSONAL THEATRE AT HIS HOUSE), and the ones who are "best" will be served up for our ritual entertainment for the next couple of months.

ALW says that Nancy is "so today...so believable". Cam is badly edited, but is generally excited. Norton tells us how popular Oliver! is. Shani Wallis gives her opinions on who Nancy is (frankly, I'd listen to her, rather than ALW's ill-advised ramblings about "an even younger Amy Winehouse") . Perry Fenwick reckons she is like a Queen Vic barmaid, and speaking of which, they wheel out Barbara Windsor. ZOMG, it's Mark Lester. He looks a bit rakish. That is so wrong. Todd Carty, billed as "Oliver fan". Randoms in the street. For Christ's sake, everyone, she was a PROSTITUTE and a PISSHEAD and a BATTERED WOMAN. She was NICE, admittedly, but really you have to keep those three things at the forefront of your mind, surely? Read the fucking book. Or read the fucking libretto, I don't really care, it says so in BOTH OF THEM. [But that is a bit much for Saturday night telly, so instead they keep going on about how she needs to be "raw" and "a bit rough". - Georgi]

ALW, Cam and Norton are in a pub having a staged discussion about who Nancy should be. ALW says about Winehouse again. SHUT UP. Cam says "early Shirley Bassey", which I can sort of get, with that sense of world-weariness. ALW talks about "heart of gold", and "it's got to be a voice you can believe in", with Cam adding, "if it doesn't sound like it's lived through the gin and the East End, it won't sound right." They are making the right noises, but they so won't stick to this.

Lots of women queuing up and singing; lots of little boys screeching; various voxpops with women explaining their day jobs, like we care. Norton sounds vaguely surprised that people have dressed up, pretending that he doesn't know that it suggested dressing up ON THE FUCKING APPLICATION FORM. Lots of shit Cockney accents. One woman looks a bit like Little Mo.

Jessie is from the west coast of Ireland, and came to the UK to audition for drama school. She didn't get in. She is 18. I don't like her hair. She sings to Renowned Casting Director David Grindrod, who is unimpressed, and shouts advice to her through her performance. She gets better. She gets a callback. She cries. She can't believe it.

I have NO idea how to spell the name of the next woman, perhaps Menal?, but she's 27 and half-Arabic, and anyway if she progresses in the competition they might bother captioning her next time. I don't like her hair either. She has made the considered decision to go for some cleavage in her audition. I don't like her nasal vibrato. RCD David Grindrod judges her acting skills unfavourably, but puts her through anyway. She cries.

Montage. Ooh, now we get to see some shit people. HAHAHA let's laugh at the ugly, the untalented and the stupid. They all cry. RCD David Grindrod hugs some of them. The atmosphere is apparently "scarier than Bill Sikes with a hangover", though I don't notice anyone at the auditions actually BEING MURDERED by the atmosphere.

18-year-old Jennifer FROM LIVERPOOL is crying because she is nervous. They have sent a TV crew back to her house and dance classes and job, so I'm guessing we'll be seeing more of her. And of course we will be, for she has a mum, WHO IS ILL. FUCK'S SAKE. Jennifer thinks she would be good at playing Nancy because "she's had a rough life too". She sings. It's OK. She gets through.

Now we get to see all the irritating little children auditioning for the role of Oliver. Don't fucking care, we don't get to vote, and we don't like stage-school brats. Although I am quite amused by the boy who says, "It would be a dream come true to sing in That West End." [As opposed to...? - Steve] ALW doesn't want a Victorian doll; Cam wants a gutsy boy with the voice of an angel. Clips of children singing, some of whom sing with an American accent, and one of whom sings with a rather cute Welsh accent. Lee Mead goes to join in the workshop, for no reason I can ascertain.

Ebony from Cornwall thinks this will CHANGE HER LIFE because it will be the ONLY OPPORTUNITY she EVER gets to do something like this. There's plinky-plonky piano music, which as we well know means ONLY ONE THING - her NAN AND GRANDAD DIED and SHE HAD TO LOOK AFTER HER MUM. What the fuck, BBC? This is worse than the fucking X-Factor. Anyway, she sings a song from The Little Mermaid, and she has a nice earthy quality to her voice, though not a great deal of melody, but she looks good and she has an ace sob story. RCD David Grindrod tells her to come back in an hour.

Jodie (?) from Blackpool has brought her new boyfriend to the audition with her. Musical theatre is her dream. She used to BE FAT and it has HELD HER BACK. Now she has lost eight and a half stone. RCD coaches her through the song, but doesn't know whether she should go through. He puts her through anyway. She cries. Her new boyfriend is pleased.

Montage of lunatics and cross-dressers. HAHAHAHAH.

Ebony needs some advice from her mum. OH, AND IT IS HER BIRTHDAY TODAY. Ebony sings at her mum. Her mum cries, because that was the song SHE SANG AT HER GRANDPARENTS' FUNERAL. She goes back in to see RCD David Grindrod. Her mum's hands are shaking. RCD David Grindrod tells her that because it is eight shows a week in a West End show, she needs more experience, and so he is not putting her through. Is this the last we see of her?

ALW turns up at the auditions. Lots of women are overwhelmed. One confesses that when she was a teenager, she had a poster of him on her wall. [Which: please, no. - Georgi] ALW decides to give some helpful advice to auditionees, and gurn while they are singing.

Jessica from Bristol is the next one in. She is blonde and reminds me a bit of Emma Chambers. She warbles her way through a dreadful offkey version of Think Twice. RCD David Grindrod tells her to stick out her tongue. There's a stud through it, which should have been removed. ALW says he thinks Nancy would have a tongue piercing, and also tattoos, but tells her not to worry about it. I'd be more worried about the fact that this bird can't hold a bloody tune. ALW chooses not to concern himself about this, then wheels out his now traditional spiel about how he is looking for a New Nancy with x amount of characteristics but they have Not Found Her Yet. He goes to watch the horrible stage-school brats instead. They're no sodding better, singing in a variety of keys and forcing dreadful vibrato. ALW says he saw one Oliver he liked, because he thought "if you said something he didn't like, he'd knee you in the goolies, and I think Oliver's got to be like that from time to time." (As if. Oliver's a total simp. The Artful Dodger would knee you in the balls, fo shizzle.-Joel)

Boarding-schoolgirl Katie sings a vaguely operatic version of All By Myself, and then admits her parents are professional opera singers. She loves musical theatre, and has lots of teeth. Norton gives us a flashback to ALW saying, "This is a girl who's been scrabbling around in the gutter", implying that Katie is therefore unsuitable because SHE IS RICH. Fuck's sake, she might be able to act for all we know; I don't think she should be automatically discounted because she wasn't in fact brought up on the streets. As she walks out of the room, she beams at the camera, and suddenly looks a lot like Sarah Brightman. [For my money, she is way too young and innocent-looking for Nancy. - Georgi]

London girls Nancy (who I really like on sight - she is good and she looks the part) and Cleopatra (comin' atcha) [I really want her to go through to the live shows just because I want to shout that at the TV every week. And possibly Drink! - Georgi] both go through. Nancy cries and then so does RCD David Grindrod. Sarah-Jane is a SINGLE MUM with a RECENT HEALTH SCARE. She lives each day as it comes. I like her voice a lot. She goes through too. She cries. Her son is pleased, if embarrassed.

Montage of squeaky excited women and RCD David Grindrod crying.

London! Drink! 109 Nancys (Nancies?) and 50 Olivers are through to the callbacks. Everyone really wants the part. Yeah, yeah, yeah. "Helping" "us" "choose" "our" "Nancy" are the panel - the ubiquitous West End Leading Man John Barrowman, shit radio DJ and star of Rent: Amyl Nitrate Edition Denise Van Outen, and RCD David Grindrod, because presumably Barry Humphries costs too much to have there prior to the live shows. [And Barry Humphries knows oh so much about musicals, right? WTF experience does he have for judging musical talent when he can't even coordinate his twinset and pearls? - Louise] [To be fair to him, he played Mr Sowerberry in the original West End cast of Oliver!, and has played Fagin in two separate productions. Sounds weird, right? But it's a TRUFACT. - Carrie]

The ladies are doing their vocal warm-ups. Norton is in their midst and sneering. He goes to talk to the panel. Barrowman says Nancy has to be a little "dirty", but then he would say that. Denise says that this year, the winner can't be too polished or too trained. She's making the same mistake as ALW and Norton earlier - just because someone has been trained, it doesn't mean they can't act the street-dwelling whore, does it? In fact, doesn't it make it more likely that they can? [THANK you. I was screaming that at my TV almost constantly. - Steve] Rada-trained Shani Wallis and Laine-trained Olivier-award winner Ruthie Henshall both managed it, to name but two. I'm getting pissed off with this show already, and it's only half an hour in. Barrowman pretends that we actually get to choose who plays Nancy, and that ALW doesn't really get the casting vote.

Callbacks. It is the Toughest Competition Yet, and everyone is Feeling The Pressure. Orla from Derry is first in, and for some reason she gets to sing Crazy For You. Norton makes Madonna jokes. Barrowman says that she is beautiful and polished but they need a rougher edge. GIVE THEM A NANCY SONG TO SING, THEN, AND ASK THEM TO ACT IT. Oh, they do for the next ones. One girl backstage listens to a rejection, then comments, "Well, at least there's one more space for us." Ha! [I loved that. Now THAT's what Nancy would be like. - Steve]

Keisha from London has a deceptively low and powerful voice. RCD David Grindrod coaches her through the song. And She Could Be Nancy. Whoop whoop! They will see her at Nancy School. Sarah-Jane, who is a SINGLE MUM, is advised by Barrowman to focus - "it doesn't have to sound perfect, because Nancy's not perfect." The panel talk as she sings, which is rude. RCD David Grindrod says they have concerns about her voice and her acting, but they are still sending her through because she has a good sob story. They don't say that bit, obviously.

Barrowman tries to help people with their Acting, and seems bewildered when that doesn't work. Never mind, ladies, you'll get him for a whole masterclass in a couple of weeks' time. Oh, Jesus, he's going to be playing Bill Sikes in the workshops, isn't he? NOTE TO ALW - just in case you read this, sir, CAST RICHARD ARMITAGE AS SIKES. He'd be ace.

Norton talks to posh Katie about the fact that some real East End girls have got through - "the kind of girls you'd move away from at a bus stop" - and that she will need to Act if she is going to be successful. Denise asks Katie why she wants to play Nancy, and props to Katie, she refers to the original text and Dickens. I'm not convinced by the literary veracity of her claims, but let's face it, Denise and Barrowman won't know any different. She sings nicely again. Her mum has an ugly scarf. The panel patronise her, then send her through to Nancy School.

For those of us with short-term memory loss, we are given a flashback to Jennifer from Liverpool, who is in the same outfit that she had at the original auditions. She sings I Will Always Love You. Denise talks to her about her job and asks if she will lose it if she takes time off to go to Nancy School. Jennifer cries.

ALW turns up to stick his nose in. "Think street...think streetkid Nancy." He watches auditions on the big monitor with Norton. "Trained voice," he notes. Norton asks, "Would that trained voice immediately rule her out?" Thankfully, he replies, "No." I think we all know the problems that ensue when you stick someone on the West End stage who hasn't had their voice trained properly or who doesn't take care of their voice or who hasn't kept up their practice, don't we? One woman sings Sweet Child O' Mine. Why? Half-Arabic Menal reminds ALW of "a young Shirley Bassey", presumably because she has dark skin and can sing. She is through to Nancy School.

At Nancy School, they will undergo intensive training, including Acting Class with Barrowman. All the girls would Do Anything for the part, including BEGGING and HUMILIATING THEMSELVES on live television. Montage of embarrassment.

Barrowman to one rejected lady: "I'm right on this. I know my craft."
Viewing public: "AHAHAHAHHA!" [He WAS right, though, that time. She was Truly Scrumptious, I mean Truly Awful - Louise] (Beside the point. There is no excuse for saying, 'I know my craft', especially when you're John Barrowman. Unless the craft is, like, making people touch your cock at parties.-Joel)

Jodie from Blackpool has brought her boyfriend with her again. This is their seventh date. Norton says to him, "You must be pretty keen." He is. Bless. Barrowman immediately takes to her. She makes him laugh in ridiculous fashion. Then he starts doing Acting Coaching, which makes him shout, for some reason. Anyway, she is good still, and she goes through to Nancy School. Jodie rings her mum. Her mum is pleased. ALW turns up and kisses Jodie, who rambles in her excitement.

21-year-old Cleopatra lives in north-west London with her mum and brother. She is made to pose by walls and graffiti in an urban fashion. She works on a performing arts project about knife and gun crime. BUT! She has a sore throat! O NOEZ! What will happen? She goes on stage, and Denise says, "Comin' atcha", cos she is on our blog, steelin our jokez. Barrowman stops Cleopatra's audition because he has noticed the rasp at the top end of her voice; Denise tells her she is special; she is going to Nancy School. She hugs her mum.

More about the stage-school brats, who are doing a musical theatre workshop, and then they sing for ALW and Cam, who is singing along, which is quite cute. 11-year-old Alexander is wearing a suit and has shiny hair. They like him. Then they do some Acting. I LOVE the little Welsh lad! Cam and ALW do deliberating. [aka shuffling polaroids around and pretending to Look Very Serious Indeed - is this going to be a looks-based initial selection? - Louise]

Caoife made RCD David Grindrod cry at the auditions, but that seems to have happened quite a lot, to be fair. She and her family walk around the lovely picturesque IRISH countryside in IRELAND, which is where she is from because she is IRISH. She does her audition is a very nervous way. Barrowman points her that she is a "young girl - Nancy is a woman". She tries to argue that she can act any age, and every actress should be able to do that. Whatever. We see lots of other auditions from young people, at which the panel voice their concerns about their lack of life experience. Well, why put them through this far then if you were really that bothered? Anyway, Barrowman is in love with Caoife, and she goes through. [She'd better mug up on her Mocknee if she's going to graduate from Nancy School - Louise]

East End Nancy, whom I love, claims to be a survivor. Her dad introduced her to singing, but he wasn't an actor, just a typical East End bloke. [Ooh, make her sing some Chaz'n'Dave for the auditions! - Georgi] He DIED when she was 10. He went out one night, and didn't come back. Nancy does her housework and sings. Her mum cries because she knows Nancy's dad will be looking over her. Nancy sings As Long As She Needs Me. Everyone cries, including Nancy and Norton. What is point of this competition, please? She is this year's Chosen One. (Well, you'd hope so. She's a bit good. I just hope they let her talent be enough and don't fall back on her dad, who is DEAD.-Joel) Denise tells her she did the East End proud. Obviously she is going to Nancy School.

Montage of Nancy Scholars with no names. ALW and Cam have chosen their Olivers, but we won't find out who they are till next week. Except we do, because they have a montage, and the little Welsh lad is one of them, whoop!

At Nancy School, make-up is forbidden, apparently. They will be Pushed To Their Limits. There will be weeping. There will be Barrowman wandering around in sinister fashion to choose the 12 Nancies for the live shows. Hooray!

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