I'd Do Anything
The story so far...
Thousands of hopefuls began their quest to realise their dreams through a series of regional auditions.
"The role of Nancy is such an exciting one to cast," says Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. "It's so real, here we go with a role that will speak to a lot of kids today. Nancy is a girl of the street and yet she has a heart of gold underneath it all. We're looking for a girl who really is a rough diamond.
"The search for our Olivers will be very different. Don't think of Oliver as a little drippy Victorian doll of a boy. He has to have a very special quality – real grit – after all, he has to hold his own around the rough streets of London. He's got to have a character of steel who can convey what the depths of Victorian life were like for these kids."
The girls are whittled down to just over a hundred who are then called to London to perform before the panel – those who stand out at audition have the chance to win a coveted place at Nancy School, the next stage in the competition.
At the London call backs they all have to prove their worth performing two contrasting songs – including a contemporary pop number and learning the entire range of Nancy songs from Oliver! – before the panel make their deliberations and reduce the successful group to just over 40 girls.
There was no set criteria for the girls – the only stipulation to applicants was that they should be 17 or older by 1 January 2008. Past Nancys include Claire Moore, Shani Wallis, Sonia Swaby and Sophie Okonedo, and one of the aims is to encourage girls from many different backgrounds and ethnic groups to try out for the role.
The remaining select group enter Nancy School, where a team of the best coaches in the business work with them to hone their vocal, acting, choreographic and improvisation skills. The rigorous regime of individual scrutiny and group tasks reveals who among them has the sheer guts and verve as well as performing potential to survive to the final selection – and inevitably dreams are made but also broken.
Meanwhile 50 young boys aged between nine and 14 (by 1 January 2008) are selected to work with musical theatre experts before they perform for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Cameron Mackintosh. Twelve are then chosen to continue to the live shows.
The live shows
Each week the wannabe Olivers will be set a musical task and also perform as a group. They will not face a public vote, but must continue to impress Andrew and the panel to guarantee a place in the semi-final.
And in time-honoured tradition the Nancys will be vying to make their mark on Andrew and the panel, and from programme three will also need to gain viewers' support to keep them in with a chance of winning the coveted role to play Nancy in the West End.