Reality TV Musicool Aims for May West End StagingDate: 13 March 2007
Not to be outdone by the BBC (with How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and the upcoming Any Dream Will Do) and ITV (with next month’s Grease Is the Word), Channel 4 has launched its own reality TV programme to tap into the current buzz around musical theatre.
Musicool - which airs midday on Sundays as part of the channel’s T4 youth programming – aims to bring together talented young musicians (aged 18-25) of all genres from across the UK to create a brand new stage musical, which will be performed live in front of an invited audience at a West End theatre (still tbc) on Sunday 13 May 2007. The show, hosted by radio and TV presenter Edith Bowman, promises to “reinvent musical theatre for a new generation”.
As part of the initial nationwide search, applicants were told only that they would be participating in a “brand new, unique music project”. In last week’s first programme in the 11-part series, 20 shortlisted musicians found out the true nature of the competition when cast members from Fame performed in front of them. The news was greeted with shock and horror by many of the finalists. “I don’t want to do that,” said one. “I do my own music. I don’t want to do that whole jazz-hands thing.” Another admitted: “I’m starting to brick my pants.”
After workshops with Musicool’s three musical theatre mentors – director Fiona Laird, musical director Mike Dixon and choreographer Sean Cheeseman (Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated this year for Daddy Cool - two musicians withdrew and eight more were winnowed out. The final ten-strong company - which will create and perform the new piece, amalgamating all of their genres – was announced this week.
The final ten are: Abi Ryan (20-year-old RnB pop vocalist from Seaford, East Sussex), Nick Barrett aka Soulstar (24, RnB, Newcastle), Midas Whittaker aka Mr Midas (23, dancehall and bashment MC, London), William Atkinson (22, death metal, Theydon Bois in Essex), Darren Michelangelo Smith (19, indie, Cambridge), Annika Gabbitas (22, RnB, Sheffield), Fe Salomon (24, rock, London), Esther Barton aka Axe Girl (21, acoustic pop punk, Bristol), Cleopatra Humphrey aka Mz Bratt (18, grime MC, London) and Chris Royle (18, RnB garage, Manchester).
The ten are now living together in a musical boot camp house in Camden, north London, as they take acting and dancing in addition to singing lessons to round out their skills and develop the new piece.
Commenting on the project, Neil McCallum, commissioning editor of T4, music and youth, said: “This is a truly exciting commission for T4 that we hope will really highlight the diverse musical talent we have in the UK today. We’ll be giving each performer the opportunity to showcase their own distinctive musical style in front of a specially invited, select live audience and T4 viewers alike, as they look to work together to try and pull off something truly special.”
Host Edith Bowman added: “I'm well chuffed to be involved with Musicool. Everyone, whether they like to admit it or not, loves a bit of a musical, from Jay-Z using Annie as the inspiration for his latest hit to you or I belting out a show tune on a visit to the karaoke booth. It's great to see a reality show that has a positive message and experience for the cast - they are there to learn skills and broaden their horizons. There are so many different characters on the show who are all very committed and passionate about their specific field of music.”
- by Terri Paddock