On Saturday night’s broadcast, Mead, a professional actor, was up against 19-year-old supermarket customer service assistant and student Keith Jack, and student and former boyband member Lewis Bradley, who celebrated his 18th birthday on the programme. The three men – from the original shortlist of 12, which had been whittled down from thousands who auditioned - each had to perform two solos as well as a group rendition of “Maria” from West Side Story.
Bradley was knocked out after the first round in the live final. In the ultimate contest, Mead and Jack reprised numbers from earlier rounds – “Always on My Mind” for Jack, “Paint It Black” for Mead – and then performed a duet of the title song from Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. More than three million votes were logged during the two-part broadcast.
Mead was one of two professionals with West End experience in amongst the final 12 Joseph competitors. He joined the company of Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre last year, understudying the principal role of Raoul. He has also previously covered Pharaoh in the tour of Joseph, produced by Any Dream Will Do judge and show co-producer Bill Kenwright.
On Saturday’s programme, Kenwright told Mead: “I should have seen back then what everyone else has seen for the past eight weeks. You are not an understudy, you are a West End star.” On winning what Lloyd Webber deemed an “amazing achievement”, Mead promised viewers he would give them “a helluva show” at the Adelphi.
Last year, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? marked the first time that reality TV format was used specifically to cast by audience vote a contracted lead role in the West End. Its winner Connie Fisher, who won this year’s Whatsonstage.com and Critics’ Circle newcomer awards, paid a special visit to Any Dream Will Do to offer last-minute advice to the Joseph finalists and to sing the title number from The Sound of Music.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - a new staging of the record-breaking 1990s production at the London Palladium, which was directed by the late Steven Pimlott - will once again be designed by Mark Thompson and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. The musical, based on the Biblical tale of Joseph and his 11 jealous brothers, started life in 1968 as a 20-minute entertainment for an end-of-term school concert. By the time it received its Broadway premiere in 1982, it had been expanded into a full two-hour show. With music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, Joseph’s popular score includes the songs "Any Dream Will Do", "Close Every Door to Me", “Go, Go, Go Joseph”, “Those Canaan Days”, “Benjamin Calypso” and "One More Angel in Heaven".
For the past two months, Any Dream Will Do has gone head-to-head with Grease Is the Word, the ITV programme to cast a couple to star as Danny and Sandy in the new West End revival of Grease, opening at the Piccadilly Theatre in August (See News, 16 Mar 2007). The rival reality show – involving Grease’s lead producer David Ian, who was also Lloyd Webber’s Sound of Music co-producer and fellow judge on last year’s How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? - also crowned its winners on Saturday night (See Today’s Other News).
- by Terri Paddock