Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Que sera Sarah

Graham enters to the strains of 'Consider Yourself'. I should just write a macro for that bit. ['O HAI! Jessie is be Nancy plz?' - Carrie] Suitwatch: scarlet with red piping, and a green shirt underneath. The whole thing has a faintly misplaced air of Christmas. Graham reminds us that another Nancy is about to crash out of the competition, and Andrew is potentially on the verge of another difficult decision.

The Nancies sing 'Who Will Buy?' once again. Rachel and Sarah are ace, as usual, really putting some oomph into it, as is Jodie. Pirate Jessie looks a bit lost, and is possibly wondering what happened to the gangplank. It ends rather abruptly, with Samantha doing an odd sort of curtsey at the front and looking very much like the star of the show. Lesser writers might scream "conspiracy!" at this point, but not I.

Graham tells us that it's down to us to choose Cameron Mackintosh's leading lady for the West End, because Andrew can only save one girl each week - which rather belies the "it's down to us" idea, if Andrew can override the person gaining the least votes from the public, as he has done on several occasions. Graham reminds us that Andrew won't get a say in the final - it will be entirely down to the phone vote to select the winner. Wow, one whole week of absolute power! You are really spoiling us. "It's a public vote, anything can happen," Graham warns us. "Look at Boris Johnson in London." I'd really rather not, thanks.

Graham introduces the panel, and throws us to the recap of last night. Jodie sang 'Luck Be A Lady', which Denise found strained at the top. Backstage, Jodie frets she tried too hard. I know, it's so hard to imagine, isn't it? Sarah got sandbagged with 'Mr Bojangles' and Barry thought she had limited facial expression. Rachel squeaked the big note of 'For Once In My Life', but got praise from the panel, and is happy backstage. Sam groped her way through 'Sway' and Andrew leered at her. Nonetheless, she was happy with her feedback. The Olivers sang 'Breaking Free' from High School Musical, but were not a patch on Same Difference. Niamh's voice was not up to the challenge of 'They Can't Take That Away From Me', and Barry thought it "intelligent and lyrical". Pirate Jessie formica-ed her way through 'The Man That Got Away', which I didn't even recognise until I read Carrie and Georgi's recap, and got a rimjob from the panel nonetheless, because she is the second coming of Lee Mead and must be praised no matter how awful she is. Backstage, she says was very excited to be onstage and be herself, which suggests that acting is a poor career choice, all things considered. Ashley was, per my boyfriend, a "scary space hooker" with a slightly terrifying rendition of 'Hey Big Spender', which got mixed reviews, as they say in the trade. Backstage, Ashley says, "I don't know what I need to do to please these people!" in a rather pissed-off way which is not becoming at all. Sweetheart, this is an audition. If, at an audition, you find you are not pleasing the person who is judging you, you need to change to suit them. That's how it works. Stop expecting them to change to suit you.

Graham mentions "the curse of the coat" afflicting the Josephs last year, of which I have no recollection, but I'm sure Carrie will know what he's on about. [It's fairly self-explanatory... - Carrie][Which is to say that the Joseph who got to rip the coat from the back of the voted-out Joseph - ah, fond memories - would be in the bottom two next week. - Georgi] This year apparently, there's the curse of Barry Humphries. Which is not, contrary to popular belief, the fact that he's on this show at all. Graham reads a viewer letter and we go to a VT. Basically the theory is that whoever Barry names as NotNancy is in the singoff each week, and we see the clips to prove it. He named Amy in week one, Keisha in week two, Tara in week three, Francesca in week four, and Keisha in week five. And really, that is kind of spooky. Maybe he is serving a purpose on the panel after all. [I would like to note that although Barry was pulling monstrous faces, he didn't come close to being scarier than ALW with a straight face. - Georgi]

Graham reminds us again that Nancy is a gritty part, which is the segue for the Nancies going to the Queen Victoria in east London (no, not that one), where Denise and Babs Windsor will be teaching them all how to be proper Cocknee sparras. The girls first have to do a scene playing a Cockney from Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be, and there's an adorable scene of Sarah running through her slang with Babs. Various regulars of the pub tell us that East End girls are tough and take no crap from anyone. First up are Jodie and Sarah doing a duologue: Jodie's Cockney accent is very good and surprisingly understated; Sarah's is good, if less obviously so. Samantha and Niamh are next, though we only hear Samantha speak (her accent is also perfectly passable), so I wonder if Niamh was any good. Ashley's attempt is awful and stagey, and veers quickly from Unconvincing Cockney to somewhere near Adelaide via Mumbai. A bystander claims that Ashley was very convincing, and if they hadn't known she was Scottish, they would've thought she was a real Cockney. I find the veracity of this statement deeply dubious. Jessie's Cockney accent is even worse; Dick van Dyke is watching this and sighing with relief that the worst Cockney accent committed to celluloid will no longer be his. Babs says that Jessie had the emotion, but panicked with the accent. Next, the girls have their acting mettle tested with a scene from Blood Brothers. [That well-known Cockney play, of course. - Carrie] Sarah and Jodie's duologue looks intense and awesome, and at this stage I would willingly pay to see them headline a show opposite each other, musical or otherwise. Denise says Jodie was acting it from the heart, but she needs to see more grit from Sarah. Barbara Windsor says Samantha impressed her from the word go. Niamh (speaking in her native accent) is nervous, according to Barbara. Rachel (in her own accent) is a very strong actress, per Denise, and then Pirate Jessie Mead is apparently so wonderful that she makes Barbara and Denise cry, and herself cry, and people who just happened to be walking past cry with the intensity of her performance. Do me a fucking favour. The pubgoers favour (1) Jessie, Niamh and Ashley (2) Jessie (3) Rachel and (4) Rachel and Niamh. No Jodie? I'm surprised and appalled.

Back in the studio, the final seven sing 'Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be' in their best Cockernee accents. Sarah, Jodie, Niamh, Samantha, Rachel and Ashley all do a fair job with the accent - perfectly in keeping with the song they're singing, anyway - while Jessie sings like she has a mouth full of maxi pads. ENUNCIATE, CHOSEN ONE. Graham goes to the panel for feedback: Denise names Pirate Jessie Mead as the best, even though Jessie was transparently the worst. Go figure. John saw plenty of "cor blimey" from Niamh, and Barry enjoyed Jodie. Andrew refuses to single anybody out, and then singles out Pirate Jessie Mead as being outstanding. Seriously, what the hell? I mean, I liked Connie well enough even though she wasn't my favourite, and I didn't care for Lee at all, but at least I understood why they were so relentlessly praised by the panel. This time around, I do not have a clue what they see in the mealy-mouthed arm-swinging side-gobbed girl of thoroughly average talent.

This week, the Olivers were asked to pick one Nancy to perform with. Who did they choose? Roll VT! Harry announces the results to the girls in his best Graham impression. He names Jodie first, and she says "oh, thank you!" before he informs her she is not their Nancy, and I have no idea whether that was genuine or a big rehearsed bit that they were all set to do. Really with Jodie, it could go either way. Samantha and Niamh are not Nancy, neither are Ashley and Rachel. So it's between Jessie and Sarah, and thank every God there is, Sarah wins. Sarah is touched and says she's "weeping like a big girl". "It's like having our Josephs back," quips Graham. HA! Sarah sings 'Together' from Gypsy with the Olivers.

Sarah is really great with the boys, so it's easy to see why they chose her. She's a very generous performer, if that doesn't sound too wanky - she allows them to shine without overshadowing them, while still being awesome herself. In the audience, Rachel is mouthing the words along with Sarah, which is quite sweet. [Or attempting to scene-steal. Whatever. - Carrie] The whole thing goes on a bit too long and has too much Olivers and not enough Sarah for my liking. At the end, Andrew says that he thinks Sarah was having a lot of fun with the boys. Er, so to speak.

Another VT? Jesus. Andrew coached the girls for the singoff as well, which will be 'As If We Never Said Goodbye' from Sunset Boulevard. Jodie interviews that you never really prepare yourself for the singoff, because you really don't want to be there. Ashley agrees that it's a horrible experience. Andrew says it's great for him to have one of his own songs in that situation because he'll know how best to judge it, and hopefully he'll have told them enough for it to make sense for them. Andrew says the decision will be very hard for him. [God forbid he should have to judge the Nancys on a song he did not write himself! How difficult would that be?!? - Georgi]

Graham goes to the panel to ask who is not Nancy based on this week's performance. John names Jodie (wtf?), Denise names Sarah (WTF?) and Barry names Ashley. Graham FINALLY gets on with the results. Jodie is safe and could still be Nancy. She is tearful in a very endearing way, if still very stagey. Samantha is also safe and could still be Nancy. Pirate Jessie Mead is safe, of course, and is probably going to fucking win. Sarah...is in the sing-off. This is entirely my fault because I voted for her this week, and my vote is the kiss of death even more than Barry naming you as his choice to go. Graham invites Rachel, Ashley and Niamh to step down and form a line, but only two of them are safe. Niamh is safe and can hardly believe it, and takes it a damn sight more graciously than Ashley did last week. Ashley is the last one named safe and punches the air as she runs, which is not quite as bad as last week but still kind of lacks class.

So Rachel and Sarah are in the sing-off this week. This does not look good for Sarah, does it? The one with the fewest votes from the audience is...Rachel, which draws gasps from the audience. They are to sing 'As If We Never Said Goodbye', as previously established. Sarah's opening is very strong, and her voice cracks, but with emotion as opposed to the way Rachel's voice cracked yesterday. Rachel's performance is much more still than Sarah's, but equally strong emotionally. Man, this sucks for me because I love both of them. They're both doing an absolutely bang-up job of the song, and are both great in different ways. Aw, man. Why the hell isn't Ashley in this sing-off, eh? The look on Sarah's face at the end is positively heartbreaking, like you couldn't have guessed. The two of them embrace and head over to Graham and Andrew.

Andrew says that having worked with them both, he's deeply concerned about them. He says he's been given "a real googly" tonight, but thinking long and hard, he's going to save Rachel. The applause is appreciative but muted, perhaps out of respect for Sarah. Sarah is a trooper, of course, and says she's gutted, but has had a fabulous time. The audience goes nuts. Graham asks Andrew for an explanation and Andrew does a mea culpa, saying that he wanted her to do 'Mr Bojangles' the way she did, and he thought she did it brilliantly, but he has to think of the producer, and he thinks Rachel is "solid", whereas there were points where Sarah was "fragile". I assumed that was her acting, but what do I know? Andrew says that she did exactly what he asked, and he feels dreadful. [And there I thought that fragility was going to redefine the role of Nancy. How can he justify Emo Niamh still being in the competition after this? - Georgi]

Sarah, God love her, is taking this like a total pro and is not nearly as visibly pissed off as she's entitled to be right now. She's all smiles, very grateful, and cheerily heads off for her singout. My PVR cuts off just before she gets stripped of her locket, but I feel like I owe it to Sarah to trot off to iPlayer to witness the whole thing in its entirety, so that I do. For some reason, the other girls line up in a 4-2 formation either side of her, which looks really weird, and I'm guessing someone fucked up. They also don't sound quite as harmonious as they usually do, which may well be because they lack numbers these days, but I like to think it's because Sarah's not there to be the vocal backbone. Rachel strips off Sarah's locket, and kisses her on the cheek as she does so, which is sweet. The other Nancies are all very tearful as Sarah runs up the stairs. Sarah sings with the Cockney accent ditched by Keisha last week, and really sounds great. The other girls all rush her as she finishes, and with that we're out.

Well, that sucked, didn't it? Fingers crossed Sarah turns out to be this year's Daniel Boys and goes on to be a huge hit in the West End [or at the Apollo Victoria? - Georgi] despite a grossly unjust early elimination.


Heather said...

Poor Sarah, I was gutted that she went.

I'll second your call for her to be the Daniel Boys breakout for this series.

I agree the sing off sounds unbalanced - again like last year once Daniel went, and they lost the strong counterpoint to Lees voice (cos Keith never seemed to make the effort in the goodbye, and he was the only other one with the strength of voice to do it.

I loved Sarah with the Olivers - which also begs the question why not keep Sarah, as your Olivers have already demonstrated their preference....

Anonymous said...

I was a bit gutted Sarah went. She wasn't my choice for Nancy (I'm leaning towards Jodie atm) but she was a damn sight better than quite a few of those left.

Why does no one see the shitness that is Jessie? Her accent was absolutely atrocious, for a start, and her dancing is just embarassing. Like you said, at least with Lee and Connie they were actually ok at the singing/acting. Hopefully the public will see through the Chosen One BS, but she'll have to get through to the final because ALW will save her if she ever gets into the bottom two. Which means at some point, someone actually good is going to lose out to the Jessie obsession.