Saturday, 22 March 2008

It's a Fine Line

It's show school time! Nancy/Oliver school to be precise. Cue tantrums, tears, running mascara and bitching. And that's just the Olivers... It's Norton – you chose a Maria and a Joseph, now it's time to whittle down 42 Nancys to just 12! Cue titles. Cue flashback to last week's selection, and now it's Going to Get Tough... And it's also time to meet the 12 Olivers who've been selected to go on the live shows.

More back stories - “it's what I was born to do” etc, etc. Yawn. Van Outen says they'll be under INTENSE PRESSURE. Gosh. Really?

Welcome to Nancy School, says van Outen, we'll be stripping away the old you, no mascara, no lip gloss, nothing. Just a table of face wipes. Cue lots of bare faces as they struggle to cope without their “faces”.

We meet some people who'll be helping out on day one – Clare, who's an ex-Phantom of the Opera leading lady, [Claire Moore, I believe, who was Sarah Brightman's understudy in the original cast of Phantom, was also Ellen in Miss Saigon, and is generally awesome - Carrie] an annoying vocal/performance coach with an American accent and Kevin the choreographer are all on hand to whittle the troupe down.

Cue ALW who says he doesn't want a drippy little Victorian boy, while the screen shows a shot of Mark Lester. Pretty clear, then. Norton tells us, again, that thousands applied. Cue shots of Cameron Mac and ALW listening to lots of hideously out-of-tune kids. Then a shot of, ooh, pre-teen wrestling! Nine-year-old Joseph, who looks just like Lester and has a very plummy voice, stands on a chair – he's made it through. He looks startled. I'm startled. Didn't ALW just say he didn't want a Lester type? I think we can see which way it's going to go. The next boy up looks like a young Michael Jackson from the Ben era. He's through, too. [Aw, I liked him. He and his family were all excited and happy. I was trying to work out whether a black Oliver would make sense in terms of the story, and I'm thinking it would be an quite interesting take; Mr Brownlow's niece, being an unmarried lady of a certain social class, would certainly have been in disgrace for liaisons with, gasp, a man of colour, whom one presumes would have been one of her household. I'm not saying it's what Dickens had in mind, but it does work. - Carrie]

Cut to Van Outen – things are going to get much tougher, and There Will Be Eliminations! As if we couldn't guess. John Barrowman reminds us it's a COMPETITION, for a premier role in the West End no less. The Nancys will have to impress on day 1. [I believe this was the point at which I texted Steve to inform him that Barrowman isn't believable as a human being - even when he's trying to talk normally, it comes across as forced and stilted. At least Van Outen seems reasonably natural. - Carrie]

It's straight into class and scales. Jennifer, the 18 year old waitress [if that is indeed what you call people who work behind the counter at Burger King - Georgi] from Liverpool, is off key. Cue tears already. Van Outen gives her a pep talk about emotions going to another level. Essex girl Lucy is having a confidence crisis. Actress Francesca knows van Outen, they worked together in Rent [they were LESBIAN LOVERS OMGZ in Rent. Francesca Jackson is aces. - Carrie]. Denise asks what she's doing there. It's her DREAM ROLE! Quelle surprise. Alisha promises to work her socks off. Van Outen insists Alisha doesn't let her down and warns her about her diction, which has been weak so far. Alisha looks like she's been blubbing in the loos for an hour, her eyes are so red and puffy.

Sarah-Jane, the single mum, is terrified of the trained competition. Nancy, the east-end lass with a DEAD DAD, looks confident and chirpy. Norton thinks they look relaxed even though they say they are nerve-wracked. Alisha bottles it. Van Outen gives her a dressing down. Alisha's off though. One down. It's one less competitor for the other Nancys.

Cue shots of all the Nancys singing to the panel. They are all GIVING THEIR ALL! Charlotte feels under pressure and hits bum notes galore before forgetting her words and freezing. Cue tears. She's frustrated. So am I. This is all so predictable. I need another drink. It's time to wait and see who's done their best. Jessie thinks she's done badly, cue a hug from Barrowman [ew - Carrie] and a pep talk. The panel start deciding. Fates are being sealed.

Katie is out but Keisha is in. Norton consoles Katie. Jennifer, Lucy , Jodie (with lots of tears) and Mandy are all in. Cwoife is out, she's too young, sweet, and innocent. Norton consoles her. Francesca and Jessica are in, and so's Charlotte. Van Outen says Sarah Jane's vocals are tired. She's out. More tears, because she's a SINGLE MUM!

Barrowman says they are all through to the next step. Cue hugs, tears, screeches, etc etc. Yawn. Nancy, the east-end girl wiv an 'eart of gold, feels sick. They're getting competitive and here to stay. Keisha looks determined. There Will Be More Eliminations on day 2. No surprises there, then. Cue arrival of Dame Edna to help select the last 12.

It's back to the Olivers. Gareth, Jordan and Gwion [love him! - Carrie][also loving his fantastically Welsh name - Georgi] are all through. That's six in and six to go. Is it me or do they all look and sound the same? I'm struggling to tell the difference here.

It's back to Nancy school, and time to see them acting rather than singing. Sonia Swaby, who was the last Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh's last production of Oliver! [and is also generally awesome - Carrie], is there to help them through. Cue EVIL ORGAN NOISES, ALW is on his way!

Cue Graham Norton pulling faces at some truly dreadful overacting. [I didn't know Barrowman's acting masterclass was this week. HAHAHA LULZ! - Carrie]

ALW likes Rachel, though, he's tingling. Oo-er missus! He's off. Phew. I was alarmed at the tingling. Francesca is unwell and has to see the doctor. Cue tears. The vocal coach tells her to go home. Barrowman says the others have caught up with Francesca, who has to rest and up her game if she gets fit enough to come back.

It's time for the final test – they're all singing It's a Fine Life. They all want to stay, they all have POTENTIAL. Tell us something NEW! It's the moment of truth, says van Outen. Show us your Nancy, says Barrowman (show us yours, JB). Charlotte doesn't want to go home, but she's feeling the pressure. Come off it, they're all feeling the pressure because it's a TV Talent Show! And now it's the moment of truth (again), as they sing As Long As He Needs Me in a group. Barrowman wanders around tapping them on the shoulder if they are OUT. [This is such an unnecessarily cruel way of doing eliminations. Nobody needs the Barrowman creeping up behind them. - Georgi] Jodie looks like she's going to puke. Jennifer the waitress is out. Cue more tears and crying on Norton's jacket. Nancy the east-end girl with a dead dad and a heart of gold is OUT! Shock! She's not the Chosen One, after all. [Dead Dad Nancy was robbed! - Carrie] Van Outen looks tense, Barrowman tells the remaining girls they could be Nancy. Cue yet more hugs, tears, etc. Yawn, this is so predictable. Keisha looks like it's her turn to throw up.

Francesca's at home in Wales and Barrowman phones to tell her she's still in with a chance but has to get healthy. Will she recover in time? [Fingers crossed. Also, Barrowman says his own name really weirdly. - Carrie]

Back to the Olivers. Laurence, Jonny and rugby player Harry are all in. Why do they all sound like they ate a kilo of plums? He's a workhouse brat, for God's sake!

There are 18 Nancys left, and one last test (er, didn't they say that 10 minutes ago?). It's an invited audience at a theatre in the east end. The panel is van Outen, Cameron Macintosh, ALW and Barry Humphries. Barrowman is trapped in Cardiff in the time rift, apparently. Cue shot of Babs Windsor telling us how her life was changed by Lionel Bart when he gave her a part in Fings Ain't Wot They Used To Be. Connie Fisher and [West End Leading Man - Carrie] Lee Mead are in the audience too. [Former West End Leading Lady - Steve] Connie says they'll all be nervous. No? Really?

Cue a group turn of Om Pah Pah and Fings, plus various pop songs for the individual turns. No one really stands out. Babs says it was all wonderful, she wouldn't have missed it. Lee's enjoying watching rather than auditioning.

Cut to the last three Olivers – Sam, Alex and Chester [I LOVE him too. And I'm not speculating or anything, but the kid loves to sing and dance and trampoline, and also wears a hat. I suspect if he were 15 years older, he'd be a good friend of mine. - Carrie].

It's judgement day for the Nancys. Everyone plus the panel heads to ALW's posh country pad for decision time. Barrowman arrives from Cardiff and watches back the VTs to catch up. Cue lots of disagreements on the panel as they look at the polaroids. This is no panel for old men – Humphries is sporting a dodgy Javier Bardem psycho-killer haircut but has little to say.

Cleopatra and Helen get called in to sing again. Van Outen looks pleased with Helen, while Barrowman looks bemused at Cleo, who looks terrified. The youngest girls are also asked to sing again – Jessie, Lucy, Samantha and Niamh. ALW does some eyebrow-raising at Jessie. Lucy pulls unattractive faces. She's not going through, anyway, she's the size of a Surrey bungalow. Sam is off-key. They all burst into tears. ALW says there was one World-Class Performer in the four. Van Outen agrees. I think there are several going home.

It's time. Tara tells ALW he has a nice house. [AHAHAH! It's a fucking mansion! It's a fucking country ESTATE! - Carrie] She's in. Cue tears. Kleenex shares quadruple overnight. ALW's unsure about Rachel, but – she's in! OMG! Ashley's in and rings her gran, who yelps ear-piercing screams. Mandy's not right, she's out. And Dolly, who's not Nancy as she's not had enough experience. Jaime says “Nancy's my dream”. Not for ALW, though, who tells her “you're very talented but you're not Nancy, get some experience". Sarah looks eager, she's in! Jessie has been turned down twice by drama school – but she's in! She asks ALW if he's serious. Like, duh... Keisha's in and drops to her knees as if she's about to do the hands in concrete thing on the Hollywood walk of fame. Er, she has a long way to go yet. Samantha's in and hugs Norton. Francesca's in too, despite the health problems. Ginger-haired Amy's in – ALW tells her it's a ghastly moment, so of course we all thought she was going home. Helen the professional actress is told she's not raw enough and too polished. Out. [Apparently having actually attempted to train for a career in musicals is almost as bad as having both parents still alive. - Steve] Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Jodie from Blackpool, who lost 8 stone and drags her bloke to auditions, is in, on condition she can do sad as well as bubbly. She goes blubber-berserk. What IS she like? Totally OTT. I have my doubts about her. Nurse, pass the Prozac. Just two places left and Fat Lucy is going home. No surprise there.

The last three get called in to see ALW together. Niamh's through, so is Cleopatra, but Ann's not. Cleo may be about to have a coronary. And now it's all down to you from next week – cue the live shows!

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