This past week, the world celebrated International Women’s Day and so one of the things I wanted to do with The Saturday List at Musical Cyberspace this week was to celebrate a few women in musical theatre. Having recently watched I’d Do Anything again, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at where the 12 musical theatre performers who competed for the role of Nancy in the 2009 revival of Oliver! are today. The 2008 BBC talent show cum reality series also searched for performers to play the title role and proved to be a family favourite at the time, although some viewed the show as a problematic way of casting musical theatre roles within the wider context of the entertainment industry.
12. Amy Booth-Steel, whose dress was lime green was the first potential Nancy to be eliminated. This didn’t seem to 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.
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. She has also worked in television, notably in the Welsh soap opera Pobol Y Cwm.
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, travelled 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. Most recently, she has appeared in Tina the Musical, playing the role of Tina Turner’s friend and confidante, Rhonda Graam.
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. Her latest credits include Sunday in the Park with George, School of Rock and Caroline, or Change.
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.
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. She’s also toured the world with Mamma Mia!
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. She’s also appeared in the Boy George musical, Taboo and the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler classic, Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. She’s also taken on the roles of Mary in The Beautiful Game, and Girl in Once.
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. Most recently, she has appeared in Come From Away, both on the West End and on Broadway, and john & jen, the popular Andrew Lippa-Tom Greenwald two-hander.
3. Blue Nancy Samantha Barks is one of the best known of the I’d Do Anything contestants internationally, 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. Alongside further film and television roles, she has also done stints in Amélie, Pretty Woman and Frozen.
2. Runner up Jessie Buckley – who wore the dark green Nancy dress, turned down understudying Nancy to play Anne in A Little Night Music. She’s done a fair amount of work on film, including Judy and The Lost Daughter, the latter of which has earned her an Academy Award nomination. We’ll hear whether she wins that award when the Oscars are presented towards the end of this month. Her television credits include The Woman in White, Chernobyl and Fargo. On stage, she’s done a fair deal of Shakespeare and is currently playing Sally Bowles in a high-profile revival of Cabaret opposite Eddie Redmayne.
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 production, she has subsequently appeared in Monty Python’s Spamalot, Shirley Valentine and A Taste of Honey as well as pantomime productions of Dick Whittington and Robin Hood.
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!