On this edition of Bizarre, but True, we look at perhaps the strangest, musical inspired by reality TV. No, not Jersey Shore: The Musical. Susan Boyle became an international sensation thanks to her run on the British reality TV show Britain's Got Talent. Her selection by the producers was a stroke of genius. Here was a middle-aged, frumpy, rambunctious woman who could pull off a pretty decent theatrical soprano. More importantly, she shined onstage. The producers had to be jumping for joy when she took the stage and immediately started sassing the judges and playing up the crowd.
BGT 2009: Susan Boyle - I Dreamed A Dream (Full... by vidsuperstar
Though Susan ultimately lost the contest, her initial audition went viral as soon as the producers of Britain's Got Talent posted it online. We're talking millions of views in under 48 hours and still growing. She earned a major label record deal and went to number one in twelve countries for her debut album. She received awards and became an in-demand live performer.
For some reason or other (maybe her success coming from covers of musical theater songs), some theatrical producers decided to cobble together a musical based off of Susan Boyle. Apparently, I Dreamed a Dream has a real book, cast, and everything a show needs because it launches its first UK tour on 23 March.
Here's where things get strange. No one outside of the production has any clue what shape, form, or tone the story will tell. Will they gloss over all of Boyle's actual issues for a perfect rags to riches story? Will her character age throughout the show? Or will it be "I'm so sad in my hometown. What's this? An all ages music audition? Let's give it a go?" We don't know. The producers are banking on the appeal of Susan Boyle.
Boyle will be appearing in performances. However, that will only be for the end of the show. Another actress will play her until Susan herself comes out onstage. Again, another odd choice in this production.
Do I think there's a show here? I do. It would require going into some of the issues Susan Boyle has faced in her meteoric rise to fame.
Does anyone remember how she had a series of episodes after the show finished? Stories of nervous breakdowns, bizarre behavior, and an inability to perform plagued her in the gossip rags as her albums sold by the million worldwide. Remember the performance on The View she had to stop?
The show I'd love I Dream a Dream to be is how an everyday woman gets rushed into stardom and learns to cope with the national spotlight. The woman's talent is there, but her ability to safely interact with others and perform professionally is in jeopardy. The stakes should not be "will she win" but "can she continue." It could be a meditation on fame drawn from the disposable reality TV culture. Add in an original score and the choice moment of "I Dreamed a Dream" as one of the only covers and you might have something special. I doubt this is that show.
No, I believe we're getting a sanitized puff piece about a reality TV veteran who actually saw international success. Those are rare even among winners. For that, I will proudly label I Dreamed a Dream: The Susan Boyle Musical Bizarre, but True.
Thoughts? Love to hear them.