Whittled down from thousands who applied via nationwide open auditions since January, the final dozen contestants are aged between 17 and 35 and include two school pupils, a builder, an amateur performer and a professional actor, none of whom have ever taken a leading role in a West End musical.
As with How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, in which Connie Fisher won the lead of Maria von Trapp in Lloyd Webber’s hit revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music at the London Palladium, Any Dream Will Do will follow the audition process and the candidates’ time at “Joseph School”, before the remaining dozen face the weekly public vote to see who will play the role of the man with the multi-coloured robe betrayed by his 11 jealous brothers.
Musical theatre star John Barrowman (now known to millions of TV fans as Captain Jack in Torchwood) and vocal coach Zoe Tyler, both of whom appeared on last year’s How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, will join Lloyd Webber on the judging panel along with actress Denise Van Outen and Bill Kenwright, who mounted the last West End outing of Joseph and continues to tour it extensively around the UK.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, with music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, received its Broadway premiere in 1982. It has been seen in the West End at the London Palladium (now home to The Sound of Music) and most recently in the West End in Kenwright’s production, which ran at the New London for two-and-a-half years until it closed in September 2005 and featured former boyband stars including Stephen Gately (of Boyzone) and Ian ‘H’ Watkins (Steps) in the title role.
No venue or opening date has yet been announced for Lloyd Webber’s new production of Joseph, though it’s tipped to open at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre after the 26 May closure of another Lloyd Webber-Rice collaboration, Evita (See News, 28 Feb 2007).
Any Dream Will Do was originally expected to begin airing in the summer. Its earlier start date this weekend means that it will pre-empt Grease Is the Word, the ITV programme to cast a couple to star as Danny and Sandy in Grease, which is confirmed to open at the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre in August (See News, 16 Mar 2007). The rival reality show – in which David Ian, The Sound of Music co-producer and fellow judge on last year’s How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, goes head-to-head with Lloyd Webber for TV and West End audiences - commences a week after Any Dream Will Do on Saturday 7 April.
- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock