Following on from the success of "How do you solve a Problem Like Maria", the BBC continued to use this new formula twist on the karaoke talent contest, even as ITV scrambled to get onto the bandwagon with "Grease is the Word". As usual ITV is losing in the ratings but the sheer number of people watching Any Dream Will Do made me curious to see what it was about this show was drawing them in.
Essentially the show sees individual young men taking to stage to perform songs to the audience and panel to prove that they are worthy to take the role of Joseph in the West End production, which is the prize that awaits the ultimate winner. The panel give their feedback on each performer but it is the viewing public that select who they want via premium rate telephone lines. If it all sounds familiar then this is understandable because it is the same idea that has been clogging Saturday nights for many, many years. One could argue that "Stars in their Eyes" sowed the seeds by introducing the idea of people watching ordinary" people singing on television but it was most likely Pop Idol that launched the formula as it currently stands today. Of course any idea needs to be kept fresh and the cross between Pop Idol and the job addition aspect of The Apprentice was quite a good idea I suppose.
In terms of delivery, it does just what you expect it to. The boys are mostly very samey. They can all sing reasonably well and in fairness they are being groomed for the stage rather than a music career; this means they are wanting to fit into a mould rather than break it (not that any of these musical reality shows are looking for a mould breaker). They do cry rather easily though! The numbers are belted out in great cabaret style and the audience lap it up, all dressed up in their costumes with their banners. The downside of this is that none of the boys stand out and it does feel like you're watching a conveyor belt; at least with Pop Idol (for example) you do get a range of people, characters and skills. Norton makes cheeky remarks and, like Maria, he fits this show because he belongs with camp silliness. The panel are so-so but as the series went on they ended up spending too much time gushing or damning rather than making helpful remarks. Lloyd-Webber swings wildly in his opinion and has been set up as some sort of "Nasty Nigel" type, sitting on his separate chair as the "chief judge" and looking a bit like someone has thrown lots of used teabags in a pile on top of a shirt. The panel don't really have that much interest in them but they at least are suitable for the material (having seen Torchwood I can confirm that Barrowman is proof that musical theatre acting and television acting is not the same thing).
Overall then this is exactly what you expect it to be and I suppose that that means it depends on you. If you like these karaoke competitions then this is perfectly fine and in line with the standards of the formal. Personally it is not for me as I'm not really a "light entertainment" type of guy but if you are looking for a cabaret show in your front room on a Saturday night then I suppose this will do you.
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