Things starts to step up a gear now, as two Dorothys are on the way out. One leaves during Saturday’s show and another is off on Sunday. The opening group number is “Defying Gravity” and you can hear a few good American accents shining through, which is encouraging. It also proves how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to train these girls. We are also promised that we will get an exclusive performance from Charlotte Church. She has come a long way since “Crazy Chick!”
Now onto the performances. Danielle and Jessica are first up and as this is Musical Theatre week, we should be able to see clearly who could take on the role. Danielle’s VT portrays her as humble and wanting the job more than anything in the world. Meanwhile Jessica says: “I can’t believe I’m in the final Six.” (Neither can I!) She also plays the “I could be a different Dorothy” – one who has dodgy movement, odd facial expressions during a song and unintentional comedy moments, you mean?
Danielle performs “On My Own” from Les Mis and the genre clearly suits this performer. I love her rendition as it is poignant, heartfelt and she tells the story beautifully. Some notes are off slightly, but there is very little else to work on. So from that perspective she is oven-ready and does not really need more time. She has something else though, which needs pointing out; likeability. Her performances always have warmth, commitment and are never too intense. She would be great with a live audience in a huge theatre. I also think she would prove a hit with lots of little girls who will flock to see The Wizard Of Oz.
Jessica sings “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins. Although I love the show and the film, this song performed in isolation without all of the window dressing is a very poor choice, as it hardly gives someone the chance to showcase their vocal ability. It also means that Jess does her fair share of gurning and ‘comedy’ moments. Many of these are ill judged and come across as plain weird. Add to the fact that much of the number is out-of-tune and this is not Jessica’s best week.
The Judges give their usual mixed comments but the one who is adding the most for me is Sheila. This talented lady knows how to be contructive and I find myself nodding throughout her feedback. Charlotte, for example enjoys Jessica’s performance and thinks Danielle was “a bit shouty.” Sheila homes in on Danielle’s “star quality.” John likes Danielle but calls Jess his “Marmite Dorothy.” He says he is still waiting for a moment from her.
Next up are Steph and Jenny. These two girls are interesting because I think Jenny would make a good pop star and Steph would be great in a different show. They are both talented but Steph has the edge in terms of acting ability. Steph’s VT is about her resilience as she has been in the Bottom Two twice now. Jenny’s narrative is about the fact that she is not trained and is somehow “real.” If she had a natural acting ability, I would agree. But so far, I feel she never taps into the emotion of a song. But, my mind is constantly changing like a Lib Dem politician, so we’ll see…..
Steph sings “Somewhere” which is a wonderful song and Steph performs it very well. I love her vocal tone and she can do many different styles of song, musical theatre included. She brings emotion to “Somewhere” but on this occasion, maybe too much? There is something a bit too overwrought about her performance which makes her wobble slightly at times. She is good but this feels a bit over the top which means she is out of tune at points. I still like her but she has to come back fighting not wobbly.
Jenny sings “Send In The Clowns” and vocally – she delivers a subtle performance which is probably her best. But, when you think of the narrative of the song, her version is fairly flat with no emotion. It comes down to one thing really. She can sing, but there is a difference between a singer and a performer. She is simply not ready. With the right training though, she could either enter the pop market, or musical theatre as there are plenty of Juke Box musicals out there which would suit her vocals.
Of the Judges, Sheila says that Steph is “absolutely wonderful – beautiful.” She comments that Jenny “needs more colour.” John thinks Steph has what it takes to reach the Semi-finals. With regards to Jenny he says she is not quite there and adds you need to “pop back in the oven for 20 minutes.” Charlotte praises from on high for both with Steph – “special and lovely” and Jenny “simple and lovely.” Sounds like a description of Char’s comments this week!
Our last two girls are Sophie (“I wanna fight”) and Danielle (the arrogance is back again!).
Sophie sings “I Enjoy Being A Girl” and this song completely suits her. She acts well and finally displays some Dorothy traits. I cannot believe how much she has come on in one week. I am seeing something here I have not seen before. She is likeable, cute and vocally better than before. There is still work to be done, but for me – this is her best performance.
Lauren performs “Being Alive” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.” She sings the line “Make me alive” and it hits me that however well this girl performs, she never really comes alive for me. Effortless, sure. But there is no connection with the Studio audience and the performance is always very internal and it always reminds me of a little girl performing songs beyond her years in her bedroom, for herself. She is good at what she does but she needs to connect. Giving her VT eating candyfloss and being girly won’t help. She either needs a fun song or something that will bring out a different side to her. At the moment, I find her too intense and desperate and the arrogance always comes back. Many will say so what? But her performance always lacks warmth as well as her V.T. She is reminscent of a head girl who reports everyone else for smoking, whilst hiding a packet for herself.
The Judges see differences betwee the two girls. John says that Sophie’s performance is a bit small and very television. Charlotte disagrees and says Sophie did very well. Sheila hits the nail on the head – “Make a fool of yourself and you could be terrific.” Great advice as Sophie could do with letting go and bringing a sense of fun to a song. Of Lauren, Sheila says she is “punchy.” Charlotte says “You don’t have to hold on to every note” which is also great advice.
The Toto section – When Dorothy Met Toto
This finally makes sense as we see how the girls bond with a dog. Steph acts very well but has no real connection with the dog. Danielle is fine, Jenny looks at the dog like it may cock it’s leg and Jess brings playfulness to the role. Lauren needs to work on the rapport but can act. Sophie looks the part and is acting with more truth than she has done.
Group Number – “Talk To The Animals”
Jess has posture problems throughout the number and the other girls give mixed performances in a very dull piece that only seems to exist as a link to the Toto VT.
The Judges announce who is not Dorothy and Sophie is named by Sheila and John and Charlotte cites Jenny as the weak link.
Steph is through first. Danielle receives no American Idol trickery and is also through. Jessica is……. through and she objects to the pause. She really needs to watch more of these programmes as that is quite tame compared with the others. Jenny is in the bottom two along with Lauren which means Sophie is through. The song is “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and obviously Lauren gives it her all and wipes the floor with Jenny. But Lauren frowns and almost shouts her way through the performance and emotionally seems quite distant which is the exact reason why she is here in the bottom. Andrew puts her through and Jenny leaves and handles this very maturely.
Finally a Wizard Of Oz medley shows us that Danielle has a great accent, Jess is better than in other songs previously, Steph has real soul, Sophie cannot handle humour and Lauren is slick but still cold. Who leaves? Well, lines are closed so find out tonight.