Tonight, in the final of RTÉ's Fame the Musical, in association with Spar, it was an all-Dublin win as Jessica Cervi from East Wall and Ben Morris from Tallaght sang their way to victory and clinched the male and female lead roles in the nationwide tour of Fame the Musical.
In the nail-biting and emotionally-charged live show at the Helix, 19-year-old Jessica and 23-year-old Ben won the nations' hearts and votes as they beat off stiff competition from the runners up, Sean Carey from Dunshaughlin in Co Meath and Sarah O'Connor from Lucan in Dublin.
Jessica said: 'I want to thank everyone who believed in me. Everyone in East Wall and every single person who voted for me.'
Ben said: 'I love you all, you're amazing.'
Judge Robert C Kelly said: 'I'm delighted, I can't wait to get started. It's going to be the most amazing show.' Original Fame TV Star Erica Gimpel said: 'I'm really happy for you both. You blew us out of the water tonight. I can't wait to see you in the musical.' Actor Simon Delaney said: 'I had the pleasure of directing Ben when he was around 14. Even then I could tell he was going to be a star.' Jacinta Whyte said: 'Both of you are going to be sensational. Fame the Musical is going to be such a sizzler.'
In a dazzling finale, featuring duets with West End star Susan McFadden and Noel Sullivan from Hear'Say, and an ensemble number reuniting the 12 performers from the live show, finalists were invited to choose their favourite song from the live shows and Jessica sang At Last by Etta James. She also performed a duet of You're The One That I Want from Grease, with Noel Sullivan.
Following Jessica's performance, Erica said: 'My dear, you sang from your heart. You are an incredible talent and a testament to what is possible when we give opportunities.' Jacinta said: 'You're a very special talent. You're got vocal power, charisma and a twinkle in your eye. That was a stunning performance.' Robert said: 'You're a huge talent. When you sing you can really sing. That was fantastic.' Simon said: 'You've got soul. It makes me proud to be a Northsider!'
Ben chose to perform Cry Me A River. He also performed 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' from The Lion King with Susan McFadden. Simon said: 'We watched you with Susan, standing beside a bone fide West End performer, and it's something you can get used to.' Robert said: 'I cannot believe you were ever in the bottom two. That was totally and utterly fantastic.' Jacinta Whyte said: 'You have been my leading man for a long time. You reduced me to tears there. You topped everything you've ever done.' Erica said: 'I'm so proud of you. You have become a master of your instrument!' causing the audience in The Helix to erupt in laughter.
For Ben and Jessica, it is a dream opportunity, launching their careers in musical theatre.
Jessica has been involved in musical theatre since the age of 10 and has appeared in a number of professional productions including High School Musical, Annie at The Olympia and Cork Opera House and pantos; Cinders, Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin and Robin Hood in The Olympia. Jessica got her first professional job when she was 15 in panto in The Olympia. Jessica currently studies dance in The College of Dance in Monkstown.
Ben moved to London to study musical theatre in London and began working professionally straight away after graduating. Ben first appeared in the 2007/2008 production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Savoy Theatre in the London's West End as an understudy. Ben has performed in a number of other professional shows in London and Dublin including Jack and the Beanstalk at Cork Opera House, Cinderella at The Gaiety in Dublin and the Irish tour of Oh What a Lovely War. Having moved back from London last year, Ben says he prefers to live in Ireland.
On tonight's show, all 12 performers from the live shows were reunited to sing an ensemble number, Don't Stop Believing. Drew, Conleth, Hollie, Michael, Philomena, Caoimhe, Roisin and Stuart were back on stage with the Fame house band and the show's full troupe of dancers, to lend their support to the finalists.
Susan McFadden and Noel Sullivan performed duets with the four finalists. Susan and Sean sang 'Smile' from Charlie Chaplain and Susan and Ben sang 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' from The Lion King. Noel and Sarah sang 'Suddenly Seymour' from Little Shop of Horrors and Noel and Jessica sang 'You're the One That I Want' from Grease.
The stage tour of Fame the Musical, featuring Ben and Jessica as Nick and Serena, kicks off at The Grand Canal theatre on 20 August and will tour nationwide. See www.rte.ie/fame for tickets and information.
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