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Former Spice Girl Melanie C and Neighbours star turned popstar Jason Donovan are assisting Andrew Lloyd Webber in his search for the lead in his new Jesus Christ Superstar production.  Superstar is the theatre producer's latest tv search following on from I'd Do Anything, Any Dream Will Do,  How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria and Over The Rainbow.  

He plans to resurrect the show with a relaunch at the O2 Arena, and then take it across the UK in larger music venues rather than settle it in one West End theatre.  The callback process begins today and Lloyd Webber will be assisted by the pop stalwarts for the next three days.  They will then whittle down their top forty at in "intensive training" session.  Those who make it through that stage will battle it out on the live shows.    

It is not yet confirmed whether Mel and Jason will be on the tv judging panel, though both have proved their chops on the West End stage, with Mel receiving rave reviews as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers and Jason in both Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.  Mel is the only woman to have had a UK number one as part of a quintet, quartet, duo and as a solo artist (it's a shame she never joined the Sugababes), and Jason had 16 UK top 40 hits between 1988 and 1992, including hitting the topspot with his own interpretation of Any Dream Will Do.  He himself played the lead role in Lloyd Webber's 1991 restaging of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Lloyd Webber has described the audition process for Superstar so far as "extraordinary".  He insists that the eventual winner of the show will have to have "enormous charisma".  "He has to be a genuine, genuine rock tenor.   Really, think Freddie Mercury, I mean that's the kind of range we are talking about….it's not just going to be any old casting."  The most recent musical endeavour from Lloyd Webber's tv search franchise, Wizard Of Oz, has underperformed somewhat at the London Palladium and is rumoured to be vacating the venue later this year to make way for another big musical.  Critics have said that 'reality show fatigue' has made people become tired of the tv show's format, so time will tell how well the winner of this show will prove to be.  Both Chisholm and Donovan are well liked by the public and would certainly make an interesting panel if they do commit to the tv series.

Book Wizard of Oz tickets online now.

[posted by James, 12/03/2012]

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