Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Show Stealer; (1) the ARTS (2) No One Was More Surprised Than Rebecca Dent by Her Success on C4's Musicality. but Will Winning on Reality TV Be a Fast-Track to Lasting Fame?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Show Stealer; (1) the ARTS (2) No One Was More Surprised Than Rebecca Dent by Her Success on C4's Musicality. but Will Winning on Reality TV Be a Fast-Track to Lasting Fame?

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK CURTIS

IT IS reality TV's biggest success story.

Channel 4's Musicality aimed to find two allsinging, all-dancing, all-acting winners from more than 2,000 wannabes and train them up to take small roles for one night in a West End show. The programme ended with five winners, who recorded a CD for EMI and took the lead roles in Chicago last Thursday.

While the papers the following day praised Musicality's Pygmalion-esque ability to turn these likable amateurs into competent professionals in only a few months, one name was singled out for special acclaim: Rebecca Dent.

In the role of the murderous minx Roxie Hart, the 22-year-old barmaid from Ecclestone, Lancashire, took to the stage as if she owned it.

She sang beautifully, exhibited exquisite comic timing and radiated that ineffable, crucial distillation of stardust called stage presence.

Excerpts from the stunning performance will be screened in the last episode of Musicality tonight.

"It was absolutely phenomenal, such a buzz," says Dent, blue eyes shining behind un-Roxie-ish spectacles. "The audience was amazing. I think half of Ecclestone turned up but there were a lot of people there who weren't friends or family. My brother sat next to a couple of girls who were just addicted to the programme - they were screaming louder than he was."

Fellow winners Matthew the schoolteacher, Caroline the physiotherapist, Donna the box-office attendant and Warren the plumber's mate all had ups and downs through the gruelling weeks of competition and training, but it was Rebecca who seemed least likely to cut it. There were frequent tears and crises of confidence, which culminated in a harrowing breakdown during the recording of the CD.

"The thing I had always wanted had been handed to me on a plate and it was petrifying," she says. "Even after we all knew we'd won, I had this huge fear, feeling I had to prove myself worthy of winning. And recording the album was especially difficult, because we hadn't known it was on the cards: suddenly we were thrown into a studio with a 60-piece orchestra."

She also missed her parents and found London "claustrophobic" after living close to the countryside all her life. Fortunately, she had the support of her fellow winners.

"Warren's like my little brother, I adore him," she says, smiling. "Donna was like my mum, and Matthew is just a sweetheart. All the way through Caroline has been hugely supportive. Because we were playing the two female leads we were both undergoing the same pressures."

Dent started dancing aged four, when a teacher trained her to "keep giving it eyes and teeth, even when you don't know what your feet are doing".

Her family, as her grandmother is apparently fond of saying, "has never had two pennies to rub together", but her mother, an auxiliary nurse, and father, a Bolton solicitor, managed to find money for visits to the ballet and opera in Manchester, and for singing lessons when she was in her teens. …

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