John Barrowman takes on host role in ABC's 'Sing Your Face Off'

The Fresno BeeMay 27, 2014 

John Barrowman, host of the new ABC competition series "Sing Your Face Off," has ridden the notoriety from his "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood" character, Captain Jack Harkness, to a diverse career.

"Some people only know me as Captain Jack from 'Doctor Who' and I have absolutely no problem with that," says a very enthusiastic Barrowman. "Getting the role of Captain Jack a dozen years ago was a dream come true. As an actor, a role like Captain Jack can change your life.

"Jack has opened up so many other doors for me."

Along with a recurring role on the CW Network series "Arrow," the latest open door is the ABC music competition show that launches Saturday. Barrowman hosts a group of celebrities, who are transformed into famous singers: Jon Lovitz as Elton John and Luciano Pavarotti; Sebastian Bach as Adam Levine and Lady Gaga; Lisa Rinna as Dolly Parton and Britney Spears. From the hours in the makeup chair to the days spent with choreographers and vocal coaches, each show will feature the complete transformation.

Debbie Gibson and Darrell Hammond are the primary judges, who will be joined by guest judges David Alan Grier, RuPaul, Carnie Wilson, Richard Simmons, Tom Arnold and Carmen Electra.

Barrowman handles the hosting duties, but he could've just as easily been a contestant. The Scottish-American actor, singer, dancer, presenter and writer launched his professional career playing Billy Crocker in Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" at London's West End. Through his 16 years on the stage, Barrowman's appeared in productions, in London and on Broadway, of "Miss Saigon," "The Phantom of the Opera," "Sunset Boulevard" and "La Cage aux Folles."

His self-titled album reached No. 11 on the British charts and he has another album that was just released.

"I have done similar competition shows with dancing and ice skating. And they talked about me doing the hosting as some music icon. But it is a difficult thing to host and be part of the program. I am better known for presenting, someone who can control the panel, control the contestants," Barrowman says.

He was a contestant on the celebrity ice skating show "Dancing on Ice" and a judge on programs like Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical talent shows "How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?," "Any Dream Will Do" and "I'd Do Anything."

Barrowman was one of the original hosts of "Live & Kicking," a BBC children's Saturday morning variety show and appeared on the children's television game show "The Movie Game."

He calls hosting a "complete juggling job" because there's no way to predict what's going to happen.

"When I do these hosting jobs, it's like jumping off a cliff. If the parachute comes out, that's great. But if something goes wrong, you have to figure out how to land. When something out of left field happens, you have to be able to talk about it, bring everything back to the show," Barrowman says. "I don't want to sound like I have a big head, but very few people can host a show well. I was very lucky that I started working with the BBC early in my career and got a lot of media training."

When Barrowman has been a judge, he has spoken honestly when giving critiques. He will be looking to get the same kind of honesty from the "Sing Your Face Off" judges when he quizzes them after each performance.

Although he's happy to be the host of "Sing Your Face Off," it's obvious Barrowman has at least thought about which performers he would have liked to impersonate had he been a contestant.

"I do covers of artists like Michael Buble and Barry Manilow on my albums," Barrowman says. "I would have gone with something completely off the rails like Bon Jovi. And I have never sung opera."

Show information

"Sing Your Face Off," 9 p.m. May 31 on ABC (KFSN, Channel 30.1).

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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