Last night I watched the reality show Any Dream Will Do on BBC America. The premise for this show is the search for a male actor to play the lead in the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's first produced musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. This is actually the second reality show about choosing the lead for a revival that Lloyd Webber was producing. The first called "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria," detailed the search for a Maria for The Sound of Music, and the third was for a Nancy in a revival of Oliver!.
I didn't think I would like this show as much as I did, probably because it is so incredibly cheesy. The show started off with 50 guys being whittled down to twelve. The twelve would perform live every week with one of the guys being eliminated in each episode after a sing-off. The guys run the gamut from a singer who has already understudied in the West End, to a builder, to one singer who is of East Asian descent whose family didn't even know he could sing.
The best part of the show was when the top twenty were flown to Ireland to stay at Andrew Lloyd Webber's castle to perform for the townspeople in the small theater on the property. The audience members got to help vote for which of the twenty made it into the twelve remaining finalists. Gorgeous castle by the way.
The thing that really got me was the fact was two things, the guys have to perform wearing the technicolor dreamcoat that Joseph wears in the show, and the loser has to sing this song called "Close Every Door to Me," at the end of which the other guys take off the coat and he leaves. Cheesefest or what? The guys got to perform with back-up dancers, depending on their song, making it like some kind of seventies variety show. Not even American Idol would think to pull that off.
Being a former thespian, I loved the idea of using a reality TV show to give a newcomer a chance at a part in a West End show. They've tried this here with that show about Grease and on MTV choosing a winner to be in Legally Blonde the musical. But it somehow doesn't seem to have the same meaning as it does in the UK. Maybe because the UK is smaller and the film, theater and TV industries are all in one spot. Meaning that an actor can do a play and film a TV show, or a part in a film at the same time, which is a lot harder in New York.
In the states, it's all about getting that movie role or music stardom. Movie and music stars get to date models, appear in People and the other tabloids. Theater stars don't. In the UK, they appear in Hello! Magazine all the time. It's just so different over there. I mean John Barrowman, one of the judges, appeared in two TV shows here that went nowhere. He goes back home to the UK, does many West End shows and gets the lead in Torchwood which is now an international sensation.
Even though I know who wins, I'm definitely going to keep watching Any Dream Will Do.