Andrew Lloyd Webber’s TV casting shows have been the springboard for many West End performer’s careers. Connie Fisher, Lee Mead, Jodie Prenger and Danielle Hope, as the winners of his first four BBC talent searches, have all gone on to carve out successful careers on the stage, as have a great number of the other contestants: Samantha Barks, Rachel Tucker, Daniel Boys, Siobhan Dillon, Niamh Perry and Lauren Samuels are just a few of the show’s finalists who have done rather well for themselves out of it.
Lloyd Webber’s most recent show for ITV, Superstar, searched for a new talent to play the role of ‘Jesus’ in the UK arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, co-starring Spice Girl Melanie C, radio presenter Chris Moyles and comedian/songwriter Tim Minchin. It was Ben Forster who secured the coveted role and it seems the opportunity provided by another of Lloyd Webber’s casting shows may once again work its magic on an unknown name as, after an acclaimed turn in the modernised Jesus Christ Superstar musical, he has already been cast in the 40th anniversary tour of The Rocky Horror Show. Forster is set to play ‘Brad’ alongside Roxanne Pallet (Janet), Oliver Thornton (Frank N. Furter) and Rhydian (Rocky). Forster is already climbing up the musical theatre ladder, but will any of his Superstar co-finalists be behind him?
If the past shows are anything to go by, then the answer will be a resounding ‘yes’. Superstar had a number of impressive contestants competing for the role, and though Forster beat them all to it, history suggests that some of them may not only be journeying up that ladder with him, but may even end up passing him by – winning the top spot on the show doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily hold on to it in the world of musical theatre. I can see several of the Superstar finalists challenging Forster in their post-show careers, and one who is already taking steps toward that is Tim Prottey-Jones.
Prottey-Jones was the third contestant to be eliminated on the live shows, but his vocal performances clearly impressed the creative team behind the arena tour as he was offered an ensemble role and first cover ‘Judas’ in the musical. Following the tour, he has already got another project in the bag as he is soon to appear in the UK debut of musical I DO! I DO!
Based on The Fourposter, a 1951 play by Jan de Hartog, I DO! I DO! chronicles the ups and downs of one couple’s marriage over the course of fifty years, solely in the setting of their bedroom between 1895-1945. Featuring a book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, I DO! I DO! was the first two-person musical to appear on Broadway, where it ran for 560 performances between December 1966 and June 1968. It spawned a US television version in 1982 and an off-Broadway revival in 1996, and now, it is being brought to the UK for the first time.
Tim Prottey-Jones stars as ‘Michael Snow’ opposite Lara Bianca Pilcher as ‘Agnes Snow’ in the new production at the Riverside Studios this December. Under the helm of acclaimed West End director Matthew Gould and a 10-strong professional creative team, I DO! I DO! is set for a strictly limited run of just six shows from 5-7th December 2012. Audiences can share in the joys, pains, trials and tribulations of ‘Michael’ and ‘Agnes’ marriage through such songs as ‘Together For Ever’, ‘Something Has Happened’, ‘Flaming Agnes’, ‘The Honeymoon Is Over’, ‘Someone Needs Me’ and ‘This House’.
Prottey-Jones was working with the charity in his home-town of Birmingham before auditioning for Superstar, but despite his limited stage experience, his name was already well-known in the musical theatre community through his talent as a composer. He has released two albums of original songs, More With Every Line and Surrounded By The Sounds, both of which feature vocals from a staggering array of top West End and Broadway performers, including the likes of Louise Dearman, Drew Sarich, Tituss Burgess, Sabrina Aloueche, Mark Evans, Emily Tierney and John Owen-Jones. The album’s tracks were taken from two concept musicals, One Bitten and After The Turn, the latter of which was staged at the Courtyard Theatre at the start of the year and featured Ashleigh Gray, Liam Doyle, Stevie Webb and Tori Allen-Martin in the cast.
Having already proven himself as a talented songwriter, he is now spreading his wings as he aims to prove himself as an onstage performer as well. I’d crossed paths with him before his time on Superstar and it was certainly gratifying to see a wider audience realising what I already knew; that Tim Prottey-Jones is a very special talent with an extraordinary and powerfully diverse voice. I believe he could very well be another of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s success stories in the TV casting series.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)