Social networking sites can be a very negative place when people use them as a way to attack others – we’re always hearing about school kids who have found themselves the victims of cyber-bullying, and the similar practice of sending nasty tweets to celebrities or posting critical messages on forums. So when people choose to use them as a means of achieving a positive outcome, it’s a very welcome sight.
This is why I think the ‘Search For A Twitter Star’ competition is such a good thing. There have been a number of theatre-themed twitter accounts cropping up on the site, but some of them seem to have been created just to undermine those in the industry by poking fun at them; the secretive @WestEndProducer is not one of them though. He regularly posts amusingly insightful tweets which, although occasionally fly a little close to the post, are never deliberately intended to cause offense to anyone and with over 15,000 followers, his appeal to the twitter theatre community is continually growing. Part of that is due to the competition he has been running over the last few months.
‘Search For A Twitter Star’ is an online talent competition @WestEndProducer created to help find a new potential leading lady/man for the West End. Hundreds of people have entered by submitting videos of themselves singing to YouTube, with free reign as to what song they perform and how they choose to do so. The competition deadline ended last week, and the process of selecting 40 quarter finalists from all of the entrants is now underway, which will then be followed by a public vote to decide who the 10 finalists will be. They then go on to the live final in what is looking to be a momentous event at the Lyric Theatre on 9th July 2012.
The five males and five females will have the opportunity to perform on a West End stage as they compete against one another to become the first ever ‘SFATS’ winner. Embracing the growing effectiveness of online promotion, everyone who takes up one of the 900 seats in the theatre will be encouraged to tweet their comments and feedback on the contestants throughout the event with the eventual winner chosen through an audience twitter vote. A panel of industry professionals will also be there to judge each contestant’s performance, comprised of West End star Louise Dearman (Wicked), musical director Mike Dixon, casting agent Anne Vosser and West End agent Gemma Lowy Hamilton. Tony Green is producing the event, backed up by the creative team behind the recent gala performance of Children of Eden at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Drew Baker will direct, with James Draisey as musical supervisor and Ben M. Rogers as production designer.
The competition has attracted massive amounts of interest, even receiving a mention in The Evening Standard yesterday. The live finals are set to be one of the biggest nights in the 2012 theatrical calendar to date. What I find so wonderful about it is the opportunity that it offers to, not only the lucky winner, but everyone who makes it to that final. In these types of live talent searches, it has often happened that those who place second, third or even lower in the competition, actually go on to carve out a successful career in the industry regardless. The best thing that ‘SFATS’ offers though is hope, as well as a sense of validation. There are so many talented people out there who don’t believe in themselves or are too afraid of rejection or being ridiculed to actively pursue their dream – not everyone can make it through to the final, but something as simple as a few positive compliments on their video entry could be just the boost of confidence they need to push them in the right direction. The positivity surrounding this competition is inspiring and that is a positive thing in itself.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 3rd May 2012