Sometimes it is as if fairy tales can come true. Take Olivia Lynes, an 11-year-old who has long dreamed of performing on a West End stage. Olivia’s mother Melisa says that at two, Melissa could pick up a song after hearing it a couple of times. Young Olivia said she wanted to be a singer, so her parents took her to lessons.
Olivia’s singing teacher became more and more impressed with her young charge. She told mom Melissa that Olivia had a real talent, and needed opportunities. This lead to videos of Olivia’s singing being assembled and sent to Britain’s Got Talent. When Olivia attended Matilda the Musical this January, she was surprised to see Amanda Holden.
As the video shows, Amanda invited the star-struck Olivia to audition for BGT 2023 the next day – though it was broadcast on 29 April. Olivia agreed, and duly attended the audition at the London Palladium on the West End. Olivia brought the house down with her powerful, controlled singing. She earned a standing ovation from the packed auditorium. Amanda could not resist hitting the golden buzzer. Glittery golden confetti rained down. Olivia Lynes is guaranteed a place in the semi-final!
The song Olivia chose to sing is Defying Gravity from Wicked The Musical. With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Wicked started out as a Broadway production in 2003. The soundtrack album from the production won a Grammy and, at present, Wicked is the fourth longest running show ever staged on Broadway. It is also the second highest grossing. Defying Gravity is known to be a difficult song to sing on account of the high number of flats & sharps and because it has two time signature changes.
That performance of Defying Gravity by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth was recorded in 2006, on the night that Menzel won a Tony Award for playing Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of The West. Incidentally, Wicked is a recasting of the Wizard of OZ that gives more weight to the perspective off the Wicked Witch.
Olivia Lynes’ appearance on BGT a little over a week ago has already resulted in two “controversies”. The first seems to be a misunderstanding. The second is reminiscent of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the mechanics of the wizard’s magic are revealed.
Some viewers felt that since Amanda had previously met Olivia, and it was Amanda who invited Olivia to the audition, Amanda’s pressing of the golden buzzer shows that BGT is fixed. Amanda was quick to respond. She said: “When I met her I had no idea if she could sing. I was absolutely blown away by her performance and it’s typical of what I would press my buzzer for. I was like: ‘Oh my god. It’s going to have to be this because I love it. She is amazing’.”
The second issue revolves around the magic of the golden buzzer. An audience member posted a secretly filmed video clip on twitter showing events after Amanda pressed the buzzer. The clip shows a crew member on stage in front of Olivia holding a machine spraying confetti over the young singer. Meanwhile a camera man, supported by a crew member, films from a crouched position in front of Olivia. Many viewers of the clip complained that the magic of the golden buzzer was ruined and that the show is contrived.
Hopefully the disillusioned viewers have found solace in the comment from an audience member who explained that the reaction to the golden buzzer was actually filmed in real time. The footage in the clip was simply the filming of extra shots to provide slow motion close-ups.
Nothing can detract from Olivia Lynes’ magical performance during her audition at the London Palladium. Sometimes fairy tales do come true.