Let It Shine (BBC1) launched a couple of weeks ago with a splashy opening routine featuring Gary Barlow as performer/producer/judge. It signaled that the reality show was going to be different from X-Factor, which Barlow left behind a year or more ago, by branding Gary Barlow the new music man of the West End: all singing, all dancing.
The reality search for a new group of band mates to star in a musical featuring the hits of Take That is a good one. The BBC1 program started very strong with an audience of more than 6 million for its premiere. It has since slipped behind its chief competitor The Voice.
For many people this sort of project would be enough to keep one busy, but Gary Barlow seems to be transitioning into a major impresario. Let It Shine is just one of the many theatre projects that he is currently juggling since moving into the ‘musical’ business with Finding Neverland.
Finding Neverland opened on Broadway at The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 2015 starring Matthew Morrison. While some reviews were luke warm, it managed a respectable run. Finding Neverland, the adaptation by Gary Barlow and James Graham, originally slated for 2017 London opening, seems to have hit a snag. While there is still talk of the production making it to the West End this year there are no formal dates or theatre locked in as yet.
However, buses zooming around London herald the arrival of Gary Barlow’s other show The Girls, about to open at The Pheonix Theatre. The musical is another adaptation, this time based on the 2003 film called Calender Girls. Tim Firth has co-written and will direct The Girls.
No one can accuse Gary Barlow of being lazy or without talent. The boy band singer now effortlessly transitions from on-air talent, writer, promoter, producer and all round nice guy of the entertainment world. But we must also applaud the considerable efforts of a young performer, who has learn’t and grown, without the scandals and drama that many find themselves in the midst of. Is Gary Barlow the next Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Macintosh all rolled into one? Let’s hope so and wish him well.