So many reality shows promise to make the winner a star. "I'd Do Anything" -- a British competitive series that follows hopefuls auditioning for roles in "Oliver!" -- delivers on that promise.
The show, premiering on BBC America Wednesday, Oct. 27, was a hit in the United Kingdom. Its purpose is to cast leads in a West End production. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh audition hundreds to find a Nancy and three Olivers.
This version follows "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" in which the lead for "The Sound of Music" was found, and "Any Dream Will Do," which found the star for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."
"People in the West End were very sniffy about television getting involved in theater," says host Graham Norton. "Cameron was very public about it not being a good idea and it being unfair to professionals. Cut to three years down the line, and he wants a slice of it, too. This turns ordinary musicals into massive hits."
"What's great about this show so far is that it has opened the door for a lot of young people who would never normally get to someone like me because of the way theater works," Webber says on air.
In the episodes focusing on Nancy, during the audition process it becomes obvious, sometimes painfully so, as to who will attend "Nancy School" to train for the role. Tensions run high, as they do in any contest, but this calls for theater people, so emotions are over the top.
In the second episode, when the 12 who made it thus far are told to remove their makeup, one young woman starts sobbing.
Norton admits he did not pick the winner.
"I just thought 'This woman is a bit of a laugh,' " he says of the eventual Nancy. " 'When they get serious, then she will never make it.' How wrong I was! I am so, so glad she won. When you saw the live show in the West End, you realize she had to win. The production was so enormous, any of the other girls would have been lost."
Stage wannabes do 'Anything'
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