The Saturday List: A Fine, Fine Life for I’D DO ANYTHING’s Nancies

The original Nancy, Georgia Brown, surrounded by Broadway cast members Alice Playten (Bet), Davy Jones (Artful Dodger) and Bruce Prochnik (Oliver)

The original Nancy, Georgia Brown, surrounded by Broadway cast members Alice Playten (Bet), Davy Jones (Artful Dodger) and Bruce Prochnik (Oliver)

August is Women’s Month in South Africa, and so one of the things I want to do with The Saturday List here at Musical Cyberspace this month is to focus on women in musical theatre: actresses, theatre-makers, great roles for women and so on. With a wide range of possibilities for themed list, I didn’t know where to begin, but when I remembered that Oliver!, Lionel Bart’s landmark 1960 musical, was celebrating its 55th anniversary this year, I thought it might be an idea to take a look at where the 12 musical theatre performers who competed for the role of Nancy in I’d Do Anything, the 2008 BBC talent show cum reality series that searched for performers to play Oliver and Nancy in the 2009 London revival of the show, are today. Listed alongside the videos performed by the Nancies that opened each episode of the show, here they are.

12. Amy Booth-Steel, whose dress was lime green was the first potential Nancy to be eliminated. This didn’t seemto be too much of a stumbling block for her: some of the credits she has racked up since the show aired include Tori Amos’s musical, The Light Princess, Sister Act and The Sound of Music in the West End and the UK tour of Betty Blue Eyes. See her singing “I’d Do Anything” with her fellow contestants in the week of her elimination below.

11. The “lilac” Nancy, Cleo Royer, was eliminated second. A self-confessed music nut, Royer seems to have faded into the background somewhat, although she appeared in the West End production of Dirty Dancing. Here she is singing “Oom-Pah-Pah”, with all of the other Nancy hopefuls.

10. Tara Bethan – seen here in the orange dress singing “It’s a Fine Life” with the eight remaining Nancies – has performed in Bugsy Malone in London and the UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat since her appearance in I’d Do Anything.

9. Following her involvement in I’d Do Anything, Francesca Jackson – who wore the baby pink dress in the competition – has toured in Dreamboats and Petticoats, traveled to Paris to perform in A Little Night Music and appeared in the Barry Manilow jukebox musical, Can’t Smile Without You. In the 2011-2012 season, she performed in the West End production of Million Dollar Quartet. Here she is in her elimination week, singing “Consider Yourself” with her competitors.

8. One of my favourites in the competition, the gold-clad Keisha Amponsa-Banson‘s career bloomed following I’d Do Anything, with appearances in The Pajama Game, From Here to Eternity, The Lion King, Stand Tall: A Rock Musical, Footloose and Little Shop of Horrors all keeping her on the stage, where she belongs. In her final week, the remaining Nancies performed (along with the Olivers) “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two”.

7. Sarah Lark, the pale Green Nancy, was an early favourite of mine and ended up as an understudy for the role of Nancy in the West End production that followed I’d Do Anything. She has since performed in two Snow White pantomimes, as Miss Mona in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and in Les Miserables. “Who Will Buy?” was the opening number in her elimination week.

6. Dark Blue Nancy, Ashley J Russell‘s musical theatre credits include Sister Act, We Will Rock You, Shrek and The Phantom of the Opera. She also appeared in the workshop of Love Never Dies at Sydmonton. In her final show, the Nancies once again belted out “It’s A Fine Life”

5. Like Sarah Lark, Niamh Perry also appeared as a pantomime Snow White, while also appearing in Love Never Dies, Mamma Mia! and The Little Prince. “Consider Yourself” was the song that introduced her last appearance as a competitor on the show, in which she wore the pink Nancy dress.

4. Rachel Tucker, who wore the yellow Nancy dress, has had a fine career since the show ended. As well as appearing in a reading of Love Never Dies as Meg Giry, Tucker has played Elphaba in Wicked and made her Broadway debut in the Sting musical, The Last Ship. “Food, Glorious Food” was Tucker’s final ensemble number as a potential Nancy.

3. Blue Nancy Samantha Barks is the best known internationally of the I’d Do Anything contestants, having played Eponine in the film version of Les Miserables, a role she played on stage in London. She has also played Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Nancy in Oliver!, Velma in Chicago, Jules in the workshop of Bend it Like Beckham and Mallory/Avril in City of Angels. Placing third, she performed in the final group Nancy number, when all the finalists returned to sing “I’d Do Anything”.

2. Runner up Jessie Buckley – who wore the dark green Nancy dress, turned down understudying Nancy to play Anne in A Little Night Music. Here’s her version of Nancy’s showstopper, “As Long as He Needs Me”, from the final episode of the show.

1. Purple-clad Jodie Prenger won the competition and the role of Nancy in the 2009 UK revival of Oliver!. Appearing in Les Miserables in between the competition and the opening of that productions, she has subsequently appeared in Monty Python’s Spamalot and Street of Dreams, the musical based on the popular soap, Coronation Street. Here is her winning rendition of “As Long as He Needs Me”.

Having just had the opportunity to revisit I’d Do Anything and its twelve finalists, do you think the right person won the competition? Who would you like to see more of on stage in the future? And what other shows do you think could have similar series leading up to opening night? It would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

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1 Response to The Saturday List: A Fine, Fine Life for I’D DO ANYTHING’s Nancies

  1. xellina says:

    I think Jodie deserved to win, but, gee, I forgot how awesome Jessie was. I would definitely pay good money to see her perform.

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