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Superstar Update: The Final Five Monday 23rd July 2012

Jesus Christ SuperstarViewing figures for ITV’s Superstar may not have been as high as ITV wanted last week, but for those watching tonight this was one dynamic show with one of the favourites Nathan James being voted off by Andrew Llloyd Webber with James finding himself in the bottom two for the first time, alongside Roger Knight who had been there before.

After the first song, social networking site Twitter was busy with astonished reactions when Andrew Lloyd Webber verbally laid into Nathan after he had sung Lady Gaga’s Born This way, not having anything to comment about the performance but saying what on earth was he doing writing certain things on Twitter. ALW seemed to have a huge problem that Nathan had Tweeted a picture on Twitter showing Nathan wearing a ‘crown of thorns’.

I don’t think I have ever seen a reality TV judge so angry with a contestant and humiliating them in such a way – and there could be no reply from Nathan without taking it into a full-scale argument. Professionally I don’t think this should have happened. If ALW had wanted the usual casting for a show then he should have gone down that route and then said what he wanted behind closed doors, but to act the way he did in front of millions was somewhat demeaning for someone of his status.

Nathan has for several days seemingly got under the skin of the judges and they have been very open and vocal in their lack of belief in him for the role of Jesus, often accusing him of being arrogant and ‘bigger than the songs’.  Nathan even posted a video of himself on YouTube.com in which he said that some of the judges didn’t want him in the competition, and that he wasn’t over-confident but was just trying his best.

The fact is that when you cross-swords with someone of the status of ALW you are treading on thin ice and whatever truth there was in ALW’s words I am sure they will have influenced voters putting Nathan into the bottom two for the first time. There really was only one person ALW was going to save, and that was Roger.

As there seemed to be such an overwhelming voice of support on the social networking sites for Nathan James, it will be interesting to see the actual voting figures from the shows if and when ITV publish them.

Vocally I think Nathan was superb for the role as his ‘rock voice’ was as good as anyone on the show, and many would argue better. His problem was that he became too big for the role. Not necessarily due to anything he said or did, but simply due to the persona he gives off. His image is one of a rock star and he could really have done with some substantial guidance or mentoring to become a potential Jesus. When Dawn French commented on Nathan’s performance tonight she said that he should play Judas and not Jesus, which was an interesting comment, basically saying that he had the vocal talent but was not right for the role.

I have no doubt that Nathan James has the potential to get big singing roles but I just hope that the tabloids don’t manipulate him even further into being the ‘bad boy’ and that he is given a chance to shine with that incredible voice that he has.

So, on with the show!
Roger Knight was in the bottom two at the end having previously sung Handbags and Gladrags by the Stereophonics, a song which suited his vocal range quite well. Roger is an established stage performer with one of his biggest roles being Simba in the first tour of The Lion King. Most evenings Dawn French playfully romances Roger, in the way only she can, and tonight she displayed the name “Roger” which was “tattooed” on her right breast.

Having lambasted the first performer, ALW’s words were almost amplified to Roger: “YOU are a REAL performer” (my emphasis)

David Hunter was third on with another solid performance, this time Too Close by Alex Clare. I really wasn’t sure about this song choice for David but he again performed very well as he used his acting skills superbly together with his fabulous singing voice, although ALW did criticise his vocal performance. Can he win this competition? It certainly won’t be for the lack of trying!

Rory Taylor was up next with Under Pressure by Queen and once again he gave a brilliant performance. Mel C said that it was “the performance of the evening” and “I could listen to you all day”. ALW was also very complimentary. There should be no doubt that Rory has as much chance of winning this as anyone.

Ben Forster was last up and again he gave a storming performance with Roxette’s chart hit, It Must Have Been Love. The judges were again nothing but complimentary about Ben and his performance.

Quotes form the judges: Dawn French saying “an intelligent and sensitive performance”, Mel C “You’re my Jesus” and Jason Donovan “I would pay damn good money to see you”. ALW then changed the topic asking about Ben and any relations being a plumber. Ben replied that he is a son of a plumber and ALW tells us that he is the Grandson of a plumber. I guess they must be practically related!

This is one judging panel that many will Never Forget! Oh, I nearly forgot – Gary Barlow was on the show tonight and the fabulous five sang a song with him. They were certainly in awe of Barlow but I wonder how long it will be when he is sitting in an audience somewhere watching them sing!

As Jason Donovan has repeatedly said about the show: “it isn’t about life and death…. it is about singing and auditioning for a role”, and that is true enough. There has been drama tonight but the fact is that there are four great guys going into tomorrow night’s show. I do however hope that we can draw the line under tonight and ensure that professionalism comes to the fore tomorrow night, and that includes reading from an autocue and getting contestant’s names right!

Who will the winner be? You had better ask Andrew Lloyd Webber, as it is his show.

By Neil Cheesman who you can follow on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

Celebrating 40 years since it first opened in London’s West End, the Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Tour kicks off this September.

The new production of Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s musical goes on tour in September, featuring Tim Minchin as Judas Iscariot, Chris Moyles as King Herod and former Spice Girl – and Superstar judge – Melanie C as Mary Magdalene.

Tickets will be posted out one week before the event.

Birmingham at National Indoor Arena – Thursday 4th October 2012 7.30pm

Cardiff Motorpoint Arena – Tuesday 2nd October 7.30pm

Glasgow SECC – Tuesday Tuesday 25th September, 2012 7.30pm

Liverpool Echo Arena – Tuesday 16th October, 2012 8.00pm

Manchester Arena – Sunday 30th September, 2012 7.30pm

Newcastle at Metro Radio Arena – Friday 28th September, 2012 8.00pm

Nottingham at Capital FM Arena – Friday 19th October, 2012 7.30pm

The O2 Arena – Saturday 22nd September, 2012 7.30pm

Cardiff Motorpoint Arena – Tuesday 2nd October, 2012 7.30pm

Sheffield Motorpoint Arena – Sunday 21st October, 2012 7.30pm

Tuesday 24th July 2012



  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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