A Dozen "Nancy" Finalists Announced in Oliver! Reality Casting Series

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24 Mar 2008

The 12 finalists who will compete by reality TV for the role of Nancy in a new West End production of Oliver! have been announced.

The primetime Saturday evening BBC1 show, "I'd Do Anything!," will eliminate one actress a week by public vote on live television, until a winner finally emerges. There is also a parallel contest being staged to find three boys to share the title role, but the winners of this will be chosen by an expert panel, not public vote.

On the pre-recorded edition of the show, shown on March 22, the final 12 women were chosen from the 40 that went forward to "Nancy School," where they had been tutored for private audition "under the gaze of the TV cameras," in front of judges Andrew Lloyd Webber, producer Cameron Mackintosh, and judges Barry Humphries, Denise van Outen and John Barrowman at Lloyd Webber's private residence at Sydmonton Court.

The twelve finalists are:

  • Amy Booth-Steel, a 24-year-old graduate of Birmingham School of Acting who is currently selling programs and ice-creams at the London Palladium, where The Sound of Music is playing.



  • Ashley Russell, a 24-year-old native of Edinburgh who trained at London's Mountview Drama School under the Dame Judi Dench Scholarship, and is now a part-time freelance drama teacher in London.

  • Cleopatra Royer, a 22-year-old Londoner who has studied dance at the BRIT school and recently set up a drama group for children in her community. She is currently working on a solo album, and appears in the Sugarbabes video "Stronger."

  • Francesca Jackson, a 24-year-old who was trained at Mountview and originally hails from Wales. She recently appeared in the West End production of Rent Remixed at the Duke of York's as Joanne.

  • Jessie Buckley, an 18-year-old from County Kerry in Ireland who has performing since she was seven, when she appeared in a school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

  • Josie Prenger, a 28-year-old from Blackpool, who has been on TV before when she won "The Biggest Loser" show after losing eight stone. She is now a keen salsa dancer, and almost won the Pontins disco champion but lost to a girl who did the splits.

  • Keisha Amponsa-Banson, a 23-year-old student and part-time sales assistant from London, who previously appeared on "Saturday Disney" when she was 11.

  • Niamh Perry, a 17-year-old from Northern Ireland, who is currently studying A-level drama. She sang a solo at the re-opening of Belfast's Grand Opera House.

  • Rachel Tucker, a 26-year-old originally from Belfast who trained at London's Royal Academy of Music.

  • Samantha Barks, a 17-year-old who used to live on the Isle of Man before moving to London to study. She has supported the Sugababes and Matt Willis in concert on the Isle of Man.

  • Sarah Lark, a 25-year-old Cardiff born, Royal Academy of Music-trained performer whose current jobs include working in call centers and selling the Evening Standard.

  • Tara Williams, a 24-year-old Welsh-born performer who trained at the Redroofs Theatre School and has just finished a nine-month contract on a Welsh soap opera. She has also presented on Welsh channel SC4.

    The 12 boys competing for one of three places to share the role have also been announced: they are 11-year-old Alexander (from London); 10-year-old Arthur (from Bristol), 12-year-old Chester (from Middlesex); 12-year-old Gareth (from Londonderry); 11-year-old Gwion (from Carmarthenshire); 12-year-old Harry (from Oxfordshire); 13-year-old Jonny (from Warwickshire); 13-year-old Jordan (from Wrexham); 10-year-old Joseph (from Berkshire); 13-year-old Kwayedza (from Kent); 10-year-old Laurence (from Cheshire); and 10-year-old Sam (from Hampshire).

    For more details, visit www.bbc.co.uk/oliver, where audition clips of the 12 Nancy finalists can also be viewed.