Just when television audiences thought they had seen it all, ABC came up with a new kind of singing competition series — one where the contestants are celebrities who volunteered to be transformed to look just like one of their favorite icons. Anyone can give it their best shot at singing like someone they admire, but not everyone can pull off the feat of looking like their idols at the same time. So in an era where what you look like on stage is just as important as how you sound, this may be the ultimate challenge for performers looking to up their game.
In an exclusive interview, star John Barrowman (ARROW, DOCTOR WHO) talked about the fun of working on such an unusual entertainment show and who he would love to be transformed into if ever given the chance.
Jumping right in, let’s just talk briefly about how were you approached to do the show and why were you so interested in doing it?
JOHN: I’ve done what we call presenting shows in the U.K. for about the last 20 years, and I knew the producer that was doing the show over here in the states and I had been working with ABC, so they got in touch with me. They said, “We’re bringing you in because we know you’re someone who can control a show, drive a show and has the energy that we want and also the sense of humor.” So I came, read the script of what would be the presenting stuff and *boom* I was in. That was it.
But you’re so busy! How could you add one more thing to your schedule?
JOHN: (Laughs) I have a very good team of people working with me that schedule things in and make it work. Although it looks like I have a very full schedule, we do have things even down to my time-off being mapped into my schedule. But, listen, I’m here to work and entertain people and that’s what I want to do and I enjoy doing it. So if someone wants me to present a show, or do an album, or write a book, or whatever, I’m game for it.
How would you describe this kind of show? It’s not your typical singing competition.
JOHN: No, it’s an entertainment show. It’s a family entertainment show. It’s a great thing to sit back and not have to worry about anything or figure anything out. It’s just to sit back on a Saturday night and be purely entertained and laugh because you’re going to see celebrities become their favorite or iconic singing star — and you can laugh at them or you can laugh with them.
You’ve seen the transformations. How good are they?
JOHN: They’re awesome! You’re going to be blown away. I’m not going to mention everybody, but right off the top of my head, Lisa Rinna is going to blow you away, Landry Fields is going to blow you away, Jon Lovitz will blow you away — and actually so will the others — but those three come to my mind right off the bat because they are totally unexpected.
For you as the show presenter, were you just as shocked and surprised as the audience will be at seeing how much they have been transformed?
JOHN: I hope they have kept some of that in because when they come out of the transformation, I actually was sometimes laughing so hard that I couldn’t talk. That’s another reason I do shows, I want to have fun doing them and I definitely had a really fun, good time doing this show.
Is there a judging element to this show? Is it a competition or is it as you described it, just entertainment?
JOHN: There is an element of competition because the contestants have to compete against the others to remain in the competition, and the judges on the panel — we had two steady judges, Darrell Hammond and Debbie Gibson, and then each week we bring in a guest judge that was qualified in what we deemed to be the competition area that will be judged on for that particular week. So the judges will make the decisions; the audience doesn’t have to worry about that.
So are the contestants doing multiple transformations, or are they just doing one transformation?
JOHN: You will see one transformation per contestant per show.
If you could be a musical icon and go and do this yourself, who would you want to be?
JOHN: I think if I was going cross-gender, I would be transformed into somebody like Madonna or Celine Dion or perhaps Bette Midler. That might be fun. Then on the male side, I think I would like to go as either Tim McGraw or I would like to possibly go into the realm of icons like Elton John or somebody of that level.
What would be your advice to someone who wanted to do something like this?
JOHN: Come and have fun! Come and join the ABC family and have fun. That’s exactly what you would do on this show. You get to sing and be who you’ve always wanted to be. I would say, “Take that chance. Jump off that cliff. Take the leap of faith. And come and have a good time.”
Do you think contestants from other types of singing competition shows should come and try something like this?
JOHN: I don’t know. The big difference is that on other shows competitors are trying to be themselves and in our show they would be trying to be somebody else. Also, those contestants are not famous yet. That’s what’s so unique about this show: we’re taking actual famous people and putting them in this position; rather than creating somebody and making them famous.
What do you think viewers are going to love about SING YOUR FACE OFF?
JOHN: I think audiences are going to love that they can sit as a family and watch it together, and also the fact that they are not going to have to think very much. It’s just sit back, laugh, and enjoy. That’s what this show is all about. And they are going to see some amazing transformations.
It all sounds so zany and fun, but knowing that John Barrowman is there to ensure that everyone is having a great time, this new show is sure to be a crowd pleaser. So be sure to tune in for the premiere of SING YOUR FACE OFF on Saturday, May 31st at 9:00 p.m. on ABC.