It's guaranteed that if Adam Lambert wins "American Idol," he'll release at least one major-label album. But even if this year's runaway leading contender pulls a Chris Daughtry/ Jennifer Hudson and is booted before making it to the show's finale, two of Broadway's leading casting directors say he's got a great shot at finding fame on the Great White Way.
In fact, before taking a detour from musical theater and glam-rock cabaret performances, Lambert was on the short list to potentially play the lead in the
"We started working on 'Spider-Man' a year and a half ago, and [Lambert is] someone we know because we cast him in 'Wicked' and knew he had that kind of range," Telsey said of the San Diego-bred singer, who has 17 years of experience on the stage, including a stint in a 2004 musical version of "The Ten Commandments" opposite Val Kilmer. "I've not seen him do those styles as much as I've seen him now on 'American Idol.' And he was someone we looked after about seven months ago, but he told us then that he was already in the 'American Idol' process and not available. So he's definitely somebody that we would have auditioned, just because we know him and see him for a lot of shows. ... Let him go win, and then he can come and replace Spider-Man a year after the run. He'd be great."
Though Telsey said Lambert couldn't jump into the "Spider-Man" mix even if he does win the show because of the recording contracts "Idol" winners sign, the casting director said he'd gladly consider Lambert for "a bunch of shows," especially now that he has national name recognition.
Broadway has been very kind to "Idol" contestants, with a steady stream of top finishers making their way to the stage, from runner-up
Jay Binder, another veteran Broadway casting director who helped Hudson win an Academy Award by casting her in the movie version of "Dreamgirls," said many "Idol" veterans have succeeded on Broadway because they have shown the work ethic needed to perform eight shows a week and draw fans at a time when box office is down and few new major musical-theater stars are being minted.
"I'm very thrilled for what could happen with this young man, because if he succeeds in this media, we have another male musical-theater star, and we need every one we can get," said Binder, who cautioned that he'd have to have Lambert come in for an audition to see what the singer's range is. "I have my fingers crossed for him climbing buildings and weaving webs some day."
And rather than bearing the stigma of being on America's leading reality show (and #1 show, period), Binder and Telsey said "Idol" is closely watched by casting directors looking to spot talent.
"We watch every week to see who's going to lose so we can cast them in a Broadway show," Telsey said. "Seriously, because they're talented people who just didn't have agents. ... Look at Fantasia. She blew the house down in 'Color Purple.' ... What was so wonderful about her in that show is she doesn't even sing until the end of Act 1. And the whole time you're watching, asking, 'Who is this incredible actress onstage?,' and she had never done it."
Right now, Telsey said he's already going after this season's Alexis Grace for possible Broadway work, and Binder said he was looking at some "Idol" alumni for potential roles in Broadway revivals of "The Wiz" and "Dreamgirls."
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