I’m not a fan of Britain’s Got Talent. I usually try my best to avoid it. There are only so many dancing dogs and wannabe pop stars you can handle. And don’t even get me started on Alesha (I say ‘You was’ and not ‘You were’) Dixon and Simon Cowell.
But last weekend something happened on the show that I believe may just be worth shouting about. A musical was entered as an act, and this musical has made it through to the semi finals. It marks the first time a musical (rather than a person or animal) has ever made it this far. Hooray! A triumph for jazz hands all over the world.
Writers and composers can’t turn to reality TV every time they want their work seen or heard.
The musical that was entered is called Chasing the Dream, and it has been written by Pete Gallagher and Danny Davies. For last weekend’s audition, a group of performers – assembled by Pete and Danny – sang a song called Living the Dream from the show. The judges liked it, and now the performers will appear as part of the semi-finals on Friday night, to sing another song from the production.
I want them to do well, of course. But the really interesting thing about all of this is why Pete and Danny decided to enter the musical in the first place. And their reasons actually speak volumes about the state of the industry right now for writers of new musical theatre shows.
Danny tells me that he and Pete entered Chasing the Dream because they stood no chance of getting it heard or noticed any other way. They have written together before – and they have tried to showcase projects before. But it’s never really worked for them.
It’s such an expensive process and when you have not got a track record to persuade producers to start throwing money at a project it’s tough. They want to know what you have done before, and so it’s a vicious circle.
I thought that Britain’s Got Talent was a different way of approaching things and, apart from anything else, Britain’s Got Talent – whether you like it or not – tends to feed many winners or runners up into musicals. So we thought why not turn that on its head and bring a musical to reality television? Hopefully, if we get the right response, it can be launched with the cast we have – genuine actors who deserve to be on stage.
You’ve got to hand it to Pete and Danny. It seems to make sense. And they’re not the first people to complain about the state of musical theatre today and where new writers get their opportunities.
More does seem to be being done, however. An initiative called Search for a Twitter Composer is currently in full swing, which aims to find, nurture and develop musical theatre writers of the future. Meanwhile, I recently wrote about a new musical theatre showcase which is being planned, aimed at giving new musical theatre writers a chance to have their work heard. But clearly we need more projects like this. Writers and composers can’t turn to reality TV every time they want their work seen or heard.
For Danny and Pete, this Friday’s semi-final will be massively important. Their audition last weekend only secured around 50 seconds of coverage on the programme, which, as Danny points out, is not enough to let viewers know what their musical is about – and, he argues, puts them at a slight disadvantage compared with those acts that were shown in full.
So I think we should all get behind Danny and Pete on Friday and help them get to the finals. But, as Danny says, it’s not about winning Britain’s Got Talent. What he and Pete want is to get their work out there, and ultimately, to have their show staged.
Danny told me:
Winning for us is getting the exposure, the public support and, hopefully in turn, the backing to actually get this show on. That is the biggest possible win for us. We believe that would be a win for us, the cast and also British musical theatre.
Which is very well said, in my opinion. So break a leg, Danny and Pete. We’ll be watching.