I’d Do Anything’s Samantha Barks is Sally Bowles

Another one of the runners up from ‘I’d Do Anything’ has been cast in a show, and rather unsurprisingly, it’s Bill Kenwright who is responsible. 3rd placed Samantha Barks will be playing the part of Sally Bowles in his upcoming tour production of Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret, opposite dancer Wayne Sleep.

I was definitely a fan of Samantha during the series, as any of you who have read this blog regularly will know, and whilst any casting is great news for Samantha, I can’t pretend that I’m massively excited about this news, for a two main reasons.

 

1. It’s lazy casting by Kenwright
In terms of casting people from ‘reality TV hunt-for-a-star’ shows, Kenwright has real form. I wrote a piece a couple of months back, looking at what happened to the runners-up of ‘Any Dream Will Do’, the previous BBC series. Remarkably, 6 of the 12 finalists had been cast in Kenwright productions. That number has gone up to 7 in the lasts month as Anthony Hansen joined the cast of Joseph on tour as Pharaoh.

Bill Kenwright is clearly a very successful theatre producer, and he must know what the paying public want. Apparently what they want is to see someone who they recognise off the TV… Ultimately the job of a producer is to make money, so I understand why he’s done it, but I just don’t believe that all of these Joseph runner-ups were good enough to make it above the multitude of aspiring actors who weren’t on TV.

Unfortunately, it looks like he’s repeating the trick with I’d Do Anything, as he has already cast Tara Bethan as the narrator in Joseph, despite her apparent lack of talent based on some woeful performances in I’d Do Anything.

Given this background, it is absolutely no surprise that he would want to cast Samantha – I just think it’s a shame for her, as she would have been better off getting herself a West End role before taking on a touring production. I’ve heard rumours that Rachel Tucker was offered the part of Sally Bowles first, but turned it down for a role in We Will Rock You. I wonder if Samantha had other options on the table?

 

2. She’s still a teenager
Samantha was the youngest contestent in ‘I’d Do Anything’, and is still a teenager. Sally Bowles is not a teenager, and needs to be world-weary, not immature. Is this really the right role for her? Wouldn’t she have been better playing a part that’s written for someone nearer her age, like something in Spring Awakening?

Once again, this assumes that she would have been offered other parts, but given that he does have raw talent, I’d be surprised if there hadn’t been other choices.

Also, if the touring production looks anything like the West End version that recently closed from the Lyric Theatre, the costumes are a little raunchy. Playing the role of Sally Bowles risks her being judged on her looks even more, despite her previous attempts to claim that she is “not a sexpot” – will she really want that?

 

Having said all of that, it’s still great news for Samantha, and suggests that she has a great shot of making a successful career in musical theatre. Whilst it’s not the 1st show I would have chosen for her, it’s still a major role to be playing, so she should be extremely happy. Congratulations!

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