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Still Following the Yellow Brick Road

May 19, 2010

On Saturday night live TV, Danielle, Lauren or Sophie will land the leading role in probably the biggest opening of 2011. Proving just how wrong I was, I only predicted that Danielle would reach the final – and didn’t get any of the finalists right at the very beginning of the series.

This season’s “casting theatre by public vote” has been very different from those that have gone before. As the panel observed, the standard from the start was higher than ever. Not “TV Judge Talk” either – this was sincere and noticeable to all viewers, I think. Even better, it seemed that the contestants were a particularly nice bunch of people. All appeared likable and trying to balance the competitive edge with a team spirit far greater than previous years.

Lovely to see Steph given that standing ovation as she left. The result was pretty inevitable I fear, and it has been great to read online rumours of her next projects – anything from “Sister Act” (which ironically would put her in the Palladium before the winner, but would last mere weeks) to “Footloose.” Personally, if she were in “We Will Rock You” I’d be interested to go along… Oh, and while on ovations, also great that Tim Rice got the acknowledgement he rightly deserves.

Who’ll win? Impossible to predict. Who would I like to win? Equally difficult. Sophie I’ve never understood. Certainly she “looks” the part, but I felt that her acting as she sings was fairly weak and she never really did much that engaged my attention. Not a dog fan either. On the plus side, her acting on scripted lines was consistent. The problem is with me, not her, I think.

Lauren I simply admire for her professionalism. When she isn’t smiling or performing, her face seems cold to me; but give her a job to do and suddenly there is something there. Squeezed unfairly out of the dog act a couple of weeks ago, her duet with Danielle last week proved there is a fine theatrical talent  just waiting. A very safe pair of hands who won’t go sick, I’m sure, after a few weeks of a tough run. A person of the theatre rather than of the television, I’d have her down as a winner who would quite probably surprise the audience at the Palladium if she gets there.

Danielle. Sparky eyes that work on TV, but can they reach the back of the theatre? Plenty to learn about how to cope with heading a cast and working a long run, but easily the most watchable of the three when performing a song that suits her. Given that there is almost a year for her to learn what she needs to, there are possibilities. Will her fan base be large enough to defeat the other two? Not sure. More to the point, though I like her work, will I be motivated to phone a vote in? Depends to totally on her performances on the night.

As one of my website readers asks, “Who do you think ALW wants?” Not sure, but the same site reader has already filled two coaches to the show a year ahead, so maybe it is academic anyway if it sells seats.

Speaking of selling, “Theatremonkey, A Guide To London’s West End” has two copies available just by the stairs on the first floor of Trafalgar Square Waterstone’s, and has also reached branches in both Solihull and Sheffield. Buy before Saturday night, and be ready to book tickets after the winning Dorothy is announced.

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