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It's just business… show business.

2008-09-29 11:40
The reality show, High School Musical: Spotlight South Africa toured the country to find the perfect Troy and Gabriella, and the public voted for two winners, choosing from 1000s of hopefuls. Twenty-year-old David Schlachter from Durban and 18-year-old Carmen Pretorius from Roodepoort will be playing the coveted leading roles in High School Musical Live on Stage. The theater show will be touring the country from November, so there's no rest for these two after a grueling three-month fight for the prize.

Seems there was some fighting behind the scenes too, though - and things got messy.

A little over two weeks before the final, an email Pieter Toerien had sent to a friend was leaked to the media. In the email Toerien stated that he did not want Lyle Volkwyn, 21, from Johannesburg to win and made mention that he would prefer David to win. He also noted that Lyle can't act and would "kill" the show. He called it a "crisis" that Lyle had 3 000 more votes than David because he had "enormous church support".

When asked about this, the visibly distressed Toerien went pale and then a shade of red. He first denied that he did not want to work with Lyle, but returned to the issue later in the press conference, saying: "Nobody has broken the rules here; I stepped over the mark personally". He also added that the media sensationalized the story - although admittedly that's always good publicity. Musical co-producer Hazel Feldman came to Toerien's defense: "This is as much a popularity contest as a talent contest, but the public had 100% say in who won".

Until two weeks ago Toerien was allowed to "save" two contestants from elimination each week, even if they had the fewest votes - but this privilege was relinquished after the story broke. Or was it?

David's response to questions over his victory? "The public can be fickle but Lyle and I have moved on and we have support from our family and friends". He also added, "Whatever the Lord has planned for me will happen". That's easy to say when you're the winner, right? Lyle sat tight-lipped listening on in the audience and graciously signed autographs and posed for pictures at the end of the conference.

Meanwhile, Carmen has given up writing her matric exams to follow her acting dreams, "I will hopefully finish my matric next year". The precocious 18-year-old said the hardest part of the whole experience was learning the dance moves and "not doubting herself". She's also quite keen on becoming a role model for younger children, perhaps the over-eager blonde (she went brunette for the show) should chat to Britney and Miley before going down this road.

David and Carmen will be jetting off to London for five nights courtesy of Student Flights, where they are hoping to get some rest before rehearsing for High School Musical Live on Stage which opens at The Artscape Theater 28 November. Tickets are priced from R150 to R300 and are available on Computicket.

- Ashlin Simpson
Pieter Toerien's favourite wins the role of Troy in High School Musical: Spotlight South Africa.
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