Is this it? Is it really my last column on "I'd Do Anything"? I'm afraid it's true. The show ended a month ago, and I must let go. Here's the final recap.
For the final episode, it was announced that the audience would vote for the winner, and Andrew Lloyd Webber couldn't save anybody anymore. Or, as Graham Norton put it, "The Lord can only sit and watch." Then Graham announced that the phones would be open the whole show. So even though they pretend the Nancy is picked by whomever gives the most amazing final performance, it's essentially decided by whatever Nancy has the most people sitting by the phone hitting the re-dial button over and over again.
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The show opened with all the former Nancys and former Olivers. It was nice to see all the ladies again…especially my two faves, Sarah and Rachel. They all sang a group version of "I'd Do Anything," and there was a shot of judge John Barrowman clapping along on the beat, which diffused any fantasies I had of us running away. Then he smiled, and the fantasies resurfaced with fervor. Graham said that this is the first of the franchise to have finalists that have never been in a West End show. Sir Cameron reminded the viewers to pick not just the best singer, but the one who gives the most moving performance. And, I was very happy that he added "…just like Rachel gave last week." I'm still in shock that she wasn't in the final three. Lord Lloyd Webber was then asked to compare the final three, and he said that Samantha is the heart stopper, Jodie is the heart warmer, and Jessie is the heartbreaker. First of all…huh? Second of all, isn't Special K the heart healthy cereal? Why wasn't that mentioned?
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First up to sing was Jodie. She said that before this show, she was just Jodie from Blackpool. Really? Wasn't she also Jodie, winner of the British version of "The Biggest Loser"? Why is there no acknowledgement of that on the show? Doesn't being a reality TV star make her a little more than "Jodie from Blackpool"? It reminds me of the Grease reality show where they pretended that every contestant had no theatrical experience. When a contestant would speak, their name would be posted underneath them followed by a mundane career, like "temp," "substitute teacher" or "Jodie from Blackwell." Jodie said that she used to audition for shows but wasn't 22 stone. Translation please! Is that too heavy? Too light? Is it an address where Barbra Streisand lives? 22 Stoney End? Anyhoo, she sang "Son of a Preacher Man," and I was underwhelmed. She wasn't bad at all, but it wasn't a song that really showed her off. John Barrowman said that with every song Jodie sings, "she lives the words and that's what you want in a leading lady, someone who is believable." He, of course, had to make us know yet again, that he's starred on the West End, but has obviously been doing television for too long because he said, "I look forward to the day when I guest star opposite you on the West End stage." West End shows have guest stars? "Ooh, who's the guest star this week at Wicked?"
"Direct from 'Three's Company'…Joyce DeWitt!"
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Then Samantha was up, and perhaps to keep with Lloyd Webber's bizarre heart references, she sang "Anyone Who Had a Heart." She sounded great. After she sang she said that she was able to unlock her feelings after having a private coaching session with John Barrowman. Memo to Monsieur Barrowman: My feelings are locked up tight and need a severe and thorough private coaching. Asap. I was impressed with her because she had to hold several ooo vowels and instead of opening them up to an "ow" vowel, she kept them pure ... andadded vibrato. For the purest/best vibrated oohs, listen to Betty Buckley and Howard McGillin sing "Two Kinsmen" on the Drood CD. Fantastic! All the judges were concerned about how young Samantha is. Denise said, "Emotionally, you sit on the fence — probable because you're so young that you haven't lived the lyrics." Lloyd Webber wondered whether she'd have the stamina for eight shows a week. More on that lie later.
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Up came Jessie who's been brilliant certain weeks and uncomfortable other weeks. She sang "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and sounded beautiful and acted it great. That song is so sad to me because I once heard an interview with Roberta Flack saying that her cat died right before she recorded that song and that's who she thought of when she sang it. John Barrowman dished her consistency that only way he knew how…by talking about his career. "As a leading West End man, I'd be worried about your consistency." John, I get it! You've had leads on the West End! Now drop it, and start dating me. Cameron Mackintosh said that Jessie was born to play Nancy. Then Sir Andrew said, "I never thought I would sit in a chair anywhere in the world and agree completely with Cameron." It seemed like they both anointed her as Nancy. ALW said that she had true star quality and, with training, she could be fabulous. John Barrowman cut in, annoyed, and said, "But we're looking for a Nancy now!" And, Lloyd Webber corrected him by saying the show wouldn't start for six months. Sassing amongst the judges…I loved it! Jodie was asked why she should be Nancy. She said that she's got the heart and the mood ring instinct. The mood ring? I rewound it and listened again; wait…it sounded like the mooth-ring. Huh? Finally, after numerous rewinds I realized it's the British version of "mothering."
Then each of the ladies had a coaching session with…Liza Minnelli! She was in London doing her concert and looked great. They showed clips of each lady working on "Maybe This Time," and we got to see that classic coaching moment of the student barely getting out three words:
SAMANTHA: Maybe this time-
Liza started talking and sounded vocally damaged to me. I thought, "Poor thing… she'll have to simply speak the phrase to demonstrate it, or take it the octave down." Cut to — Liza fully sang it in the same high octave! Yes, it was phlegmy, but she hit all the notes. She's still got it!
Then all three ladies sang it on the show…as a trio. What? You can't just turn any song into a trio. It reminded me of when Chris Durang had that brilliant vocal group called "Chris Durang and Dawn." It was Chris and two back-up singers, and they would sing totally inappropriate songs. They did "Aldonza" from Man of La Mancha" as a trio and literally sang: "We were spawned in a ditch by a mother who left us there…" Then the pianist would call out "My Lady!" and they would lament, "And still! He insists on calling us a lady!" Hilarious.
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While they were counting the votes, they brought on last year's winner of the Joseph… competition, Lee Mead. He sang "Any Dream Will Do" and did the new reggae version of the song that was added in the nineties. I don't mind that they revised it musically, but how about revising the lyrics! I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain, to see for certain what I thought I knew (All right….he looked within to find out what his truth was….OK…keep going) Far, far away…someone was weeping (Really? Who was? Jacob, his father? Someone else?) But the world was sleeping… (So, the world was ignoring this phantom person who was crying….OK….I guess….then what happened?) Any dream will do. (WHAT!?! That's how you sum it up?!?!)
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Anyhoo, after the final votes, we found out that Samantha was eliminated. I wasn't surprised. She is beautiful and a great singer and performer. But she seemed a little harsh during this final episode and at one point, the ladies had to each sing with one of the boys playing Oliver, and she had very little connection. I'm sure she'll get a soap or a job on the West End soon, though. She's very talented. The final final episode began with each lady singing "As Long As He Needs Me." Jodie went first and made me very happy because all the vowels at the end were totally pure! "As Long As He-e-e-e, Nee-ee-ee-ee-eeds, Me-e-e-e-e-e!" Finally! Then I saw that Jessie was standing stage right the whole time and had to sing right after Jodie. It was like when you're at an audition and you hear the person before you singing the same song. Awkward. Jessie modified the word "needs" at the end of the song ("Nay-ay-ayds") but her acting was amazing. Lord Lloyd Webber gave a passive/aggressive compliment to Jodie by saying that her performance was very safe (aka, boring?) but that it's important to be safe when you have to sing night after night. He loved Jessie's performance but wondered whether she could sustain that level of performance.
Then each lady sang the song she thought showed her off the best from the previous weeks. Jodie sang "I Have Nothing" from the film, "The Bodyguard" in a decidedly lower key. Nonetheless, the audience applauded every time she nailed a G. Jessie sang "The Man That Got Away" and, yet again, showed some great acting chops.
Finally, the judges were asked to choose their Nancy: John and Denise both chose Jodie based on consistency. Andrew Lloyd Webber said that Jessie gave a more unique performance, and Sir Cameron said "Jessie is Nancy." I thought, "Hmmm…that seems pretty decisive. What if Jodie wins?" Finally, Graham Norton revealed, "The nation has decided that the winning Nancy is….JODIE!" I was happy for both of them because Jodie gets to play the role and Jessie, who was rejected from two theatre schools before she got this show, gets to know that both Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh think she should have had the role. I was a little mortified when Graham point blank asked Cameron how he felt but thankfully Cameron said "I'm thrilled." Oh, wait…actually he said, "I'm thrilled…for Jodie." Ouch. And, by the way, the non-stop namedropping of having to sustain "eight performances a week" was a moot point, since it was then announced Jodie would be doing six performances a week! What the hell is with the British? In my day we did eight a week and then a benefit on Monday nights. Anyhoo, I'm off of blogging about reality shows. Except my video blog about the Legally Blonde reality show! Take a gander at SethRudetsky.com. Peace out and blimey!