‘Maybe you could go into Musical Theatre’ is a phrase uttered by many an xfactor judge to the brave rejected singer, stoically standing there, trying to take their ‘booting off’ gracefully whilst tears threaten at the corners of their eyes.
This is an issue which had Musical Theatre fans and performers alike in uproar earlier this week.
I haven’t actually heard/seen any comments that were made to/about Johnny Robinson after his exit from xfactor, most of what I know was gleaned from the twitter backlash. From what I can gather, Amanda Holden posted a comment which said something about Chicago considering him for a role (I wouldn’t know exactly, not being an follower of Amanda Holden – I feel the same way about stunt casting, generally, as I do about xfactor rejects taking musical roles) and Olly Murs also made a comment along the lines of ‘maybe Johnny could go into musicals’.
Subsequent research has thrown up an article where it seems that Johnny himself has expressed an interest in ‘blagging himself’ a role in Kylie Minogue’s Musical http://bit.ly/tgwAdM (and while we’re on this... Kylie Minogue Musical?!? Oh ... dear ... god. If it’s as awful as the very idea of it sounds, I have no problem with Johnny being in it.)
I feel xfactor has always sneered at Musical Theatre. A regular ‘snipe’ at Joe McElderry, during the contest in 2009, was to say he was more musical theatre than pop; a line delivered by Simon Cowell with a look of abject distaste plastered all over his face. To my mind, however, that is a massive compliment. Musical Theatre singers, generally, have much stronger voices which are well developed technically, with enough stamina to sing for a few hours, 8 times a week.
Yet as soon as the words ‘Musical Theatre’ slip from a judge’s lips, the little lamb standing on stage looks crestfallen, their lip starts to quiver whilst they fervently deny it.
The outrage felt from all this is twofold:-
- That people think they can just casually start performing 8 shows a week, having been plucked from obscurity with little-to-no training
- That musical theatre is a second choice; a consolation prize for not having ‘made it’ as a pop star.
I have an ex-boyfriend who believed absolutely in the second one. He couldn’t understand that people would train for and aspire to work in theatre. Believers of number 2, cannot comprehend that there are people who work for love of their craft and theatre, rather than with the goal of being famous in mind.
All this being said, we have to remember that not all Xfactor contestants are Frankie Cocozza’s – that is to say, they’re not all fame hungry no hopers with more hair than talent; only a few months back I saw Niki Evans performing on the Blood Brothers tour and she was outstanding – not just her vocals, but her acting too. I was completely drawn in; she convincingly portrayed a wide range of emotions and was perfectly cast as Mrs Johnstone. A bit of research into her background shows she has been singing since she was 13, and she clearly has worked hard to deliver a well honed theatrical performance. I must admit, though, seeing xfactor associated with her name in the programme made me a little nervous pre-curtain. I wonder how many people may have been put off by this and decided not to buy a ticket?
If performers are really struggling to make it in theatre and genuinely want to use xfactor as a mere platform for getting noticed, it occasionally pays off (see also Cassie Compton, who has had quite a lot of work in theatre since) but should come with a forewarning – it’s going to take just as much effort trying to get yourself respected and taken seriously once you’ve got that theatre role – you better have a thick skin and the stamina for it.
If so many contestants are claiming they are using it as a platform, then, perhaps, the prize xfactor offer is, in fact, the consolation prize. Let’s face it, how many xfactor winners can you remember?
I’d just like to take a moment to direct you to one of the best theatre blogs around http://westendwendyblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/hasmusicaltheatregotthexfactor/
She’s done an article on the same subject with screen shots of the relevant tweets, which helped me clear up how this all kicked off and also has screen shots of performers reactions.