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SFATS LIVE!

The illusive @westendproducer’s Search For A Twitter Star reached its climax at the Lyric Theatre. Not one but two potential stars have been selected from an original entry pool of over 650 hopefuls.  Ten finalists battled for the title in a full-on West End live final, delivering one song each before an audience electronic vote decided the winners.  Judging panel Louise Dearman, Mike Dixon, Gemma Lowy Hamilton and David King gave a fair amount of praise and a lot of criticism after each contestant had sung.  This was really ‘rabbit in the headlights’ stuff, stood alone on the large stage, listening as their entry was picked apart, while an audience of fans, industry professionals and the plain curious looked and listened uncomfortably.  Reading journalistic criticism of a production in the privacy of your own home is one thing and can be pretty unpleasant if the review goes against you, standing there on stage in full public view as your solo performance is publicly dissected is quite something else.  This is lonesome territory and definitely not for the feint hearted.

While some of the hopefuls have received professional theatre school education via traditional routes, others are just embarking on that path and for several, this was their first time ever on a West End stage.  Without exception, the achievement of getting through to the final ten is one to be proud of but for those yet to be formally trained, it’s quite remarkable.  Particularly given that they won’t have made those all-so-important industry contacts which come by working ‘in’ the profession, which must surely have made mustering sufficient support to get through the initial public voting stages online, a very difficult task.  Quite extraordinary then, that eighteen year old contestant Felipe Bejarano (@FelipeBejarano_) with no such qualification and making his debut on a professional stage, should win the male title.   For him, this truly is the stuff that dreams are made of and a great start to one’s career.  His crowd-pleasing performance of Jason Robert Brown’s ‘Someone To Fall Back On’ demonstrated great dynamic range and stage charisma, together with a natural warmth.

Kara Bayer (@karabayer) works in theatre, but having studied textiles and costume design she too has no traditional performing background and is currently a wardrobe assistant with Garsington Opera Company.  Nonetheless, her gutsy and convincing performance of ‘Taylor The Latte Boy’ earned her a nail-biting place in the final four, along with judges’ favourite Alexandra Da Silva (@alexdasilva27) and Benjamin Vivian-Jones (@BenVivianJones) who had also enchanted the audience enough to make it to the very last hurdle with ‘The Man That Got Away’ from A Star Is Born and ‘Stranger In This World’ from Taboo, respectively.  Kara took the female crown after a tense sing-off.

Guest appearances from Louise Dearman, Associated Studios and Patch of Blue Theatre Company provided light relief as the voting rounds took place.  
With the winners announced by presenter Aled Jones, Jon Lee and Kerry Ellis gave duets with each; no doubt a stunning experience for both Felipe and Kara who stepped up to the mark admirably.

And then, some six months or so after it all began, Search For A Twitter Star was complete.  Are we any the wiser to the identity of @Westendproducer?  Well, a rather distinguished-looking male could be seen sat somewhat aloof in a box throughout the evening, complete with laptop, teddy bear and a huge bottle of Dom.  He was never introduced to the audience, though he did take a bow.  Could that really have been him?  The mystery, it seems, is not totally over yet!

Contestants (in order of appearance)
 
Jason Broderick @Jason_Broderick
Bindy Baker @BeeBopBind
Elliot Clay @elliotclay
Alexandra Da Silva @alexdasilva27
Mikey Wooster @MikeWooster
Kara Bayer @karabayer
Felipe Bejerano @FelipeBejarano_
Sarah Gies @Sarah_Gies
Benjamin Vivian Jones @BenVivianJones
Emily Barker @Emsbarker

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REVIEWED 09/07/12

By Gareth Richardson
@BargainTheatre

9th July 2012

Lyric Theatre, London, W1.

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