Actress Joanna Page hits out at Lloyd Webber reality show

‘Insulting’: Actress Joanna Page attacks Lloyd Webber’s reality show

Stage and screen actress Joanna Page has called the latest reality television show to find the next stage star ‘disgusting’. The RADA graduate criticised the ITV series Superstar and shows with a similar format.

The programme saw Andrew Lloyd Webber search for a new male lead to perform the role of Jesus in the forthcoming arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. The finale, broadcast last night, saw 31-year-old Ben Forster win the reality TV show. He will join Chris Moyles, Tim Minchin and former Spice Girl Mel C in performances around the UK.

Page, speaking to The Stage, voiced her concerns that reality television programmes overlooked performers already working in the industry: ‘There are actors and musical theatre performers who have given their whole lives to the profession because it is their passion, and then you have some bloody van driver on a show saying “I didn’t do this when I was 12 but I wish I had done, but I didn’t have the guts”. Well, that’s your problem, because you obviously didn’t have the passion, spirit, drive, and the determination, to dedicate your whole life to it.’

The Gavin and Stacey actress also questioned Andrew Lloyd Webber’s choice not to cast actors he has previously worked with, labelling it as ‘insulting’ to those who had performed in his previous shows.

She also went on to query how useful the arrangement of the series really was in showing the true potential amongst the contestants, as the show had no real platform to display their acting ability. Page said: ‘I am finding myself really happy now that they are left with people who aren’t suitable. There is no one with the charisma, the authority, the stature or the maturity to play Jesus.’

This isn’t the first time Superstar has come under attack. When plans for the show were first announced Lloyd Webber’s long time collaborator Sir Tim Rice voiced his discontent that Jesus Christ Superstar would be getting the ‘tasteless reality television treatment’.

Rice said at the time: ‘Andrew wants to rehash things all the time, but I really don’t think Superstar needs that. Those shows are relentlessly downmarket, which is fine if the show is a lightweight bit of fluff.

‘It’s just possible that it might be the most sophisticated, tasteful show hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but I doubt it. It sounds tacky and I really don’t think Andrew should do it.’

Whatsonstage Awards crown 2012 winners

The Prince of Wales Theatre played host to the 2012 Whatsonstage Awards on 19 February. The awards were hosted by former Legally Blonde The Musical star Sheridan Smith, QI panellist Alan Davies and comedian Jenny Eclair.

Matilida The Musical was the big winner of the evening, taking away four awards, including best new musical. Lyricist Tim Minchin was also named as The Dewynters London Newcomer of the Year. Teaching Drama magazine’s former cover star Bertie Carvel was nominated for best actor in a musical for his role as Miss Trunchbull, but was beaten to the award by former Coronation Street actor Richard Fleeshman for Ghost The Musical. 

The National Theatre were successful in securing a number of awards for its productions for the past season. Artistic director for this summer’s Olympic Games, Danny Boyle, was named best director for Frankenstein. Catherine Tate was named best supporting actress for Season’s Greetings, and One Man, Two Guvnors came away with best new comedy, best supporting actor for Oliver Chris and best actor for James Corden. The hit play will transfer to Broadway in April.

Smaller scale productions were also honoured with The Tricycle’s timely production of The Riots awarded best off-West End play. Ben Brown was won best new play for Three Days in May at Trafalgar Studios.

Whatsonstage claim that they are ‘the only major prize-giving event for the theatre industry voted for purely by the ticket-buying public.’ This year they estimated that 70,000 people voted for the prizes.

For the full list of winners visit Whatsonstage Awards.