I know the winner's been revealed, but I must keep watching all the episodes and blogging…I have a mission! And I need the money. I'm up to the point where there are only five contestants left.
Graham Norton began the show by saying the big debate is whether they'll have an older or younger Nancy. The oldest Nancy is Jodie, clocking in at a ripe 28 years old. Whoa…28! If you're gonna go that old, why not cast John McCain as Nancy? I know he's not a belter, but can't "As Long As He Needs Me" be sung in a mix? Andrew Lloyd Webber yet again said he was concerned because there was no frontrunner. Why is that a concern? Isn't it because they'd all be good in the role? Yes, it is. Now stop treating me like I'm an idiot audience member who can't see through the ruse of trying to add tension to the show.
|photo by © BBC|
Jodie was first up, and they showed a news telecast from her hometown of Blackpool lauding her. The newswoman said, "We love Judy!" Hmmm… Blackpool accent? Or a newswoman who's sight reading her teleprompter and never heard of Jodie? Jodie was asked by Andrew Lloyd Webber last week if she could dance and (unfortunately) this week she hauled out a dance number: that 80's "Footloose" classic, "Holding Out for a Hero." She danced with two male back-up dancers, and it made me yearn for a Hershey bar…because I think I saw the exact same number at Hershey Park in '87. John Barrowman said, "Last week, Andrew said he wanted to see you dance, you proved you can!" Actually, what he said was, "Last week, Andrew said he wanted to see you dance… you proved you can move." Passive-aggressive word change? Speaking of passive/aggressive, Barry Humphries said she had a Nancy quality like she's "been around the block." Then he added "…like John." Brava. Lloyd Webber said that "Holding Out for a Hero" was a Jim Steinman song he wrote for Meatloaf (really?). Then as usual, The Lord tried to use wordplay, whether or not it made sense, and said, "Last week I talked about choreography. I don't think it matters that much for Nancy, but the little you did of it was meatloaf." What? "It" was meatloaf? The steps were? She herself was? Then John tried to defend Jodie, but made it worse. He yelled over to Lloyd Webber, "Big girls are beautiful! Who cares if it looks like meatloaf?" Big girls? Who mentioned her weight? As Max Bialystock says in The Producers, "Don't help me." Next up was Rachel who was still stinging from Barry telling her she's more of an understudy. They announced her song, "I Will Always Love You," and I told my friend Tim it was amazing song choice. Within 20 seconds I decided it was a terrible song choice. It really is a pop song. The lyrics are so minimal, and Whitney's performance so amazing, it's hard to pull off. She, of course, got dished by the judges. Barry said that she had an emotional ceiling she had to break through, and Denise said that she lacked warmth, and it alienated female viewers. Me and my soon-to-be-one-day-boyfriend John Barrowman disagreed. He said that she showed many emotions. Lloyd Webber lauded the wonderful lyrics by Dolly Parton…which my friend Tim added that she wrote for Meatloaf.
|photo by © BBC|
Samantha was next, and her song was "Defying Gravity." Finally! A real Broadway song! That goes above Christopher Plummer's range. And, we saw her coaching session with Broadway Tony Award winner Idina Menzel! Idina was there working on the Chess concert, and Samantha cried that she got to meet her. Samantha is a great singer, but it's really too hard a song for her at age 17. Plus, it's much more vocally difficult than anything Nancy has to sing in the show, so it wasn't even necessary for her to do. She got through it fine...just not amazing. Of course, after she sang, Barry said, "Please, Samantha, I want some more." It's adorable when there's flirting going on with a 60-year age gap (see me and Jonathan Groff).
|photo by © BBC|
Then the boys performed the scene where Oliver first meets the Artful Dodger. The Artful Dodger was played by the little boy who plays Gavroche in the West End, and there's nothing more charming than watching little children act. And by "charming," I mean I took this opportunity to leave the room and get my signature bowl of cereal. Up next came Jessie who sang that musical theatre classic, "How Do I Live Without You?" John Barrowman busted her and called her performance inconsistent and vanilla. Hmm….for John Barrowman to call someone vanilla, reminds me of a time when I called someone judgmental. Barry gave her very good advice and said that she needs not to take negative criticism to heart. He told her to "stay with Jessie." Yes!
Niamh's song was designed to counteract the image of her being fragile, which she's been called each week. She sang "Don't Speak" with a male dancer. Every time she held up her hand to him and told him to not speak, my friend Tim said that she didn't have to worry about him speaking because he wasn't miked. Valid point. Denise said that Niamh seemed like a teenager having a tantrum rather than a leading lady. She thinks Niamh would make a better Bet, who's Nancy's sidekick (originally played on Broadway by the amazing Alice Playten). Lloyd Webber said that her voice isn't developed, and he's nervous that doing eight shows a week might ruin it forever. Hmm…maybe he could let her have Sarah Brightman's difficult schedule when she played Christine (six performances a week. And then ten concerts a year flying above the stage).
Then all the girls did a group version of "Dancing in the Street" proving that British customs will allow recycled material from Six Flags into the country. Also, the key it was in made the girls sound awful no matter what range they were in, which reminds me of a funny Amanda Green story. When High Fidelity was doing a reading, Julia Murney got sick and Amanda, who had written the lyrics, had to go on for her. Before the show, they made an announcement: "Amanda wants everyone to know that Julia's keys are both too low and too high for her." Hilarious!
Then came the results show. All of the boys sang ABBA's "I Have a Dream." They all sang with that boy soprano straight tone. Why!?!? Why can't they sing like Andrea McArdle? Why do the Olivers always sing in head voice with no vibrato? Does anyone actually enjoy that sound? Graham Norton revealed the bottom two Nancys to be: Niamh…. and my favorite, Rachel! I've had it! Why don't people realize that she's amazing!
They both had to sing "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," which begs the question: Wherefore Jane Ohringer? She played the Mistress on Broadway in Evita and was never heard from again. The Lady Vanishes? Anyhoo, The Lord said, yet again, "it's the most difficult decision"…and saved Rachel. Thank you! Niamh ended with the signature vowel change ("as long as he nayds may"), and Graham Norton ended by reminding us of the next bizarre time: 10 to 7. Was anything different? Yes. I know who the winner is, but I'm pretending I don't. It's called denial. Speaking of which, I'm loving my DVD of "Survivor" I got on eBay. I have a good feeling about this Richard Hatch fellow.
(Seth Rudetsky is the host of "Seth's Big Fat Broadway" on SIRIUS Satellite Radio and the author of "The Q Guide to Broadway" and the novel "Broadway Nights." He has played piano in the orchestras of 15 Broadway musicals and hosts the BC/EFA benefit weekly interview show Seth's Broadway Chatterbox at Don't Tell Mama every Thursday at 6 PM. He can be contacted by visiting www.sethsbroadwaychatterbox.com.)