Superstar winner Ben Forster defends musical theatre talent shows

Superstar winner Ben Forster has claimed that musical theatre talent shows on television can help professional performers “stay in the game”.

The performer, who trained at Italia Conti before landing a role in the West End production of La Cava, said shows such as ITV’s Superstar and the BBC’s Any Dream Will Do can help existing talent, at a time when musical theatre is becoming more commercial.

Forster, who has also appeared in Thriller Live, said: “I have done quite a lot of theatre. I did not go into this competition [Superstar] as an amateur, I went in as a professional. But musical theatre is becoming more commercial and is a different thing than it was ten years ago. So I think to stay in the game, to stay fresh and on top of your career, a move like this could work.”

He added: “It was a really big risk, and it is hard putting yourself in that situation as a professional person. But I am really glad I took it and it paid off. In a difficult world we all need to raise our games and our profiles in any way we can.”

However, Forster admitted that appearing on the ITV series had been “a full on experience” and added he had never felt pressure like it before.

After winning the series, the performer will appear as Jesus in a new touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, which will tour arenas around the UK and Ireland from September.

He will join Melanie C as Mary, Tim Minchin as Judas and Chris Moyles as Herod.

Speaking to The Stage, Forster defended his co-stars from people who have criticised the casting of the musical, and said Mel C “has a passion for this show” and has “perfected her craft” over the last ten years.

Forster added that Minchin “really wanted” to play Judas, and said: “I share that passion for this role and the show. You have three leading people, and I am sure Chris feels the same too, who want this production to be brilliant.”

The actor also defended Superstar from critics who have questioned its place in the musical theatre landscape.

Prior to last night’s final, Gavin and Stacey star Joanna Page hit out at the quality of the contestants on the series, and labeled the show “insulting” to professional performers.

But Forster said: “I think in any industry there are people who will criticise one thing and like another. But I am the kind of person who thinks that anything that can promote anyone trying to do something positive is a good thing. We are living in a world full of negative crap, and sometimes, through entertainment, we can make people happy.”

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