Saturday, 17 May 2008

More cabaret than Cabaret

Last week, the panel pulled no punches! And the Josephs are joining us this week. There's just two weeks to go until a girl's life could change forever. Who will you choose as your Nancy?

Titles!

Norton macro! Tonight, he's wearing a cinnamon red suit with satin piping on the blazer and a shiny pistachio shirt. The 12 Olivers and five last Nancys sing Consider Yourself. Again. Drink! Pirate Jessie's cockney accent is still rubbish, ditto Emo Niamh's. Jodie looks like she's having a ball.

It's the quarter final today. The big question is will the winning Nancy be older or younger? This is the wrong question again. It's about talent, not age. Or am I in a parallel universe? Plus the eighth Oliver will be selected for the semi final, at which point the three winners will be chosen. Norton tells us again that the Josephs are back for a special performance. We know. You told us two minutes ago. Time to introduce the panel of John Barrowman, Denise van Outen and Dame Barry Humphries. A quick blast of Phantom music to cue in Andrew Lloyd Webber and another tedious round of bowing to his almightiness. Norton warns the Josephs not to cry.

A VT of the last five Nancys. Rachel says, “I believe I should be Nancy.” Jodie says Nancy has to be gutsy, so it can't be Sam as she's too young. Sam retorts: “I can bring an edgy modern difference to the role. Jodie is not Nancy.” Niamh's also not betting on Jodie, who is “stereotypical”. She wants to redefine the role. [FUCK OFF. - Carrie] Pirate Jessie: “I have the stamina and passion to do eight shows a week.” (Yes, but you can't act and you mumble!) Cripes! It'll be handbags at dawn at Nancy School tomorrow.

ALW can't see a front runner. Jodie is a big warm-hearted cockney type. Rachel is a great pro, she'd be a safe pair of hands. Sam has an extraordinary quality, but has not yet shown vulnerability. Jessie has star quality but can Nancy be Irish? [NO. - Carrie] [Why should she even have to be Irish? I refuse to believe anyone is incapable of doing a broad Cockney accent that is generally acceptable to the average West End audience, and I include both Jessie and Dick Van Dyke in this statement. - Steve] Niamh has a great voice but he's not sure she can do eight shows a week.

Jodie's first up. She's dancing this week so we get to see a VT of her being choreographed, then another VT of BBC regional news show NW Tonight, which is filming her support in Blackpool, where she gets a thumbs up from the mayor. Jodie's singing “Holding Out for a Hero” and she has dancing boyz! [As opposed to Rachel, who has Daniel Boys. Sorry, I know we're not at that part of the show yet, but I just couldn't help myself. - Steve] But we're not really seeing much dancing from Jodie while they twirl in the background. It's a strangely flat performance, her voice seems a bit thin.

JB: “you can handle the role. You proved you can move. A perfect Nancy.” The Dame comments on Jodie's very warm and mature performance. DVO says “fantastic performance. You had your breath under control. It was perfect, spot on.” But whoa! ALW says the choreography was Meat Loaf [and seems to be under the impression that it was a Meat Loaf song. For FUCK'S SAKE. What did Lloyd Webber do in the 1980s after he'd written Phantom? Just sit in his theatre and count his cash? - Carrie]. JB has a go at ALW in support of big girls. Hurrah! We know Jodie's no size zero but this is not Britain's Next Top Model. [Also, Barrowman, wouldn't it have been more supportive to point out that her dancing was not shit, rather than implying that it doesn't matter if it was? - Georgi] [Perhaps I wasn't paying close enough attention, but I didn't see anything in ALW's comment that was necessarily calling Jodie fat. And Mr Barrowman, stop reminding us of that hideously offensive Mika song. - Steve]

Rachel is up next. She whines that Barry's comment last week about her being an understudy was a kick in the teeth so she was grateful to get through. Well, get this, Rachel, you need to be able to take criticism if you want to be on stage. Cut to a VT of people on the streets supporting Rachel who make nice comments about her and ignore her previous bad performances. She's doing “I Will Always Love You”. This is a big number power ballad but her voice seems to have disappeared down a mouse hole. Oops, no, there it is, briefly, but her diction seems to go when she cranks up the volume. Dull.

The Dame comments Rachel was very nearly a leading lady but he's still unmoved. The audience boos while he says she has an emotional ceiling to break. JB disagrees, it was a leading lady performance and he would be proud to star with her on the West End stage. He wants to see her back next week, the fool. I wonder if we just watched the same Rachel or if he's been eating alien meat again. DVO: “Rachel should be in the semi-final but I understand what Barry means. You are guarded and lack warmth behind your eyes, which alienates females.” [Why just females? What did that comment even mean? Stop talking out of your arse, Denise. And stop stealing your comments from internet messageboards. I suspect you're paid enough to think for yourself. - Steve] ALW: “I saw warmth, you communicated the lyric to me. But I want to know who you are, let's see Rachel.”

Third on is Samantha. She's off to meet Idina Menzel who was in the original cast of Wicked on Broadway because she's going to sing “Defying Gravity”. The VT shows her being tearful and exchanging hugs. Drink! I haven't seen this musical and don't know the song but she delivers a strong performance. We see ALW hitching his trousers up with a blank look on his face. Samantha gets a standing ovation from the Olivers. [I really thought this was a weak performance. But then I don't like the song particularly. - Carrie] [I do like the song, and I thought it started weakly but got a lot better. All credit to Samantha, I didn't think her voice was up to this song, but I thought she pulled it off very well. - Steve]

JB: “You delivered vocally. Your star is rising. You are so confident, but you can be a bit samey. I hope you're here next week.” The Dame says, “Please Sam, can I have some more?” and that she sang a great hit magnificently. DVO is very happy, she saw light and shade and Rachel should take a leaf out of Sam's book. Hee! ALW: “You must make choices off stage and you did so tonight. You are not quite yet Celine Dion but only because you are not mature enough yet. You are very secure in how you move, the best mover of the last five. I want to see you in the semi.” [But if you are on the West End stage, you don't get to decide what songs to sing - duh. Still, I commend Sam for being the only Nancy to choose a song from a musical, which is what I would do if I was trying to prove that I could be a West End Leading Lady. - Georgi]

We get another quick VT of the Josephs, in which Jodie yelps it was the highlight of her week. Then it's time to choose the last Oliver for their semi-final. Cameron Mackintosh says they all deserve to be on the West End stage. The Oliver/Dodger relationship is so important, so they get an Acting mission with a boy called Daniel who's working in the West End. Norton was mumbling here so I didn't catch the details. Anyway, Sam is rubbish and for a moment when Cam calls him out I'm seriously worried he's going through. [My living room briefly transformed into that scene in The Phantom Menace where Liam Neeson dies: NOOOOOOOOOOO! It was in slow-motion and everything. - Georgi] But phew! It's just to say fat chance... It's Jonny. He gets his cap and rates Jessie as Nancy. Pah. So, Sam, Jordan, Gareth and Joseph all get the boot and are now condemned to life of teenage boozing as they try to cope with failure. Hee! We get a pukesome VT of their highlight moments, then all 12 sing “Reach” by S Club 7. This is quite the mostly ghastly group singalong by the Olivers so far. No one stands out, their voices are thin. Did no one rehearse them? [I did enjoy the bizarre key changes - DRINK! - though. - Carrie]

Pirate Jessie concedes she was pants last week. She goes all gooey over her family on the VT. Yuk. I love her maths – she has twigged that five girls are fighting for four places. Like, duh! Drink! She sings “How Do I Live?” by LeAnn Rimes. We can live quite easily without her as Nancy, actually. It looks as if she is wearing a nightie in a grim shade of acidic lime. Her diction's better tonight but the Irish lilt is still strong – why aren't they testing her on her mockney cockney? I'm not convinced – it's all a bit cabaret for me. [I love how they have realised that her Cockney accent is so shit it's not even worth bothering with, and their only chance is to persuade the Great British Public that Nancy could be Irish. - Georgi]

JB claims he didn't hear her lilt (further proof he's OD'd on alien meat) but he's still struggling to see her as Nancy as her performance has been inconsistent over the weeks. She is vanilla. The audience boos again. DVO: “A good performance, well acted, but you have unfeminine movement. You could be a tomboy Nancy.” Hmm, not exactly a ringing endorsement. The Dame says Jessie touched his heart, but warns her not to take negative criticism to heart, but stay being Jessie. ALW: “You chose a song that I wouldn't have. You need to be more Cabaret (as opposed to cabaret with a small c, methinks). You need to be in a place where you can be in your comfort zone.” DVO interrupts and there's a quick chat over whether she can sing “As Long As He Needs Me” convincingly.

Emo Niamh is on last. She moans about how frustrated she is over the comments on her fragility. “I don't let anyone walk over me.” Cut to VT of Emo playing rugby with the lads to show she's tough. Tonight's she's singing No Doubt's “Don't Speak”. I adore this song so... To her credit, she doesn't do what she did previously and copy Amy Winehouse (or in this case Gwen Stefani) but turns out her own interpretation.

DVO is straight in: “That was not feisty, it lacked punch and you were like a teenager having a tantrum. You might be better cast as Nancy's friend Bet.” JB is unsure that performance would register at the back of the stalls. The Dame says it was gritty but points out that the Emo is physically too small to be playing alongside Oliver and the urchins. It's a major technical issue. ALW: “I worry very much that you are not ready to do eight shows a week. Your voice is not mature enough and you could damage it if you are not ready.”

We get a quick recap of tonight's performances while Niamh dashes backstage to change dresses, then a VT of a whole week backstage to fill up the hour, with clips of the Nancys rehearsing songs and whining about the lack of sleep. Or gloating over blagging red carpet nights out. It's mostly dull stuff but we get a tantalising glimpse of Mission Day but no clue as to what it was. [Am lulzing at the campness of Lewis, and Jessie falling on her arse for no apparent reason and puzzling the hell out of Rob. - Carrie]

Time for the group performance of “Dancing in the Streets” with the Josephs. We get no Lee Mead [but! we do get Daniel Boys! Dancing! And Sam and Ben make a cute couple - Carrie]. There's lots of high energy dancing but the vocals sound flat. Jessie proves again that her dancing is not great. [She spends the routine WATCHING HER FEET, for fuck's sake. - Carrie]

Norton talks out the end of the show, reminding us to vote for our favourite. We get another VT of this week's Mission, which seems to be stand-up as a very hairy Phill Jupitus is sitting in the stalls with Cameron Mackintosh...

Join Carrie for the results tomorrow.

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