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Hot off the bus

After tripping through the outback on the silver coach in I Will Survive, this reality contender's real curtain is about to rise.

So you're the runner-up in a TV reality talent show. Is it a catastrophe, a curse on your career? Or can it be a surprising opportunity to shine even brighter than the winner?

Jessica Mauboy has, after being pipped by Damien Leith in Australian Idol. Second place didn't do any harm to Anthony Callea, the runner-up to Casey Donovan. Then there's Shannon Noll, runner-up to Guy Sebastian.

And how do you explain the success of those who don't even hit the top three? Pop star Ricki-Lee Coulter came seventh on Idol and Rob Mills, now starring in Legally Blonde: The Musical, fifth.

Tom Sharah, 24, already a rising cabaret star, is about to find out after placing second to Mike Snell in the television talent series I Will Survive, which followed 12 male contestants around outback Australia on the silver bus featured in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

"I've been so overwhelmed by the fan base I Will Survive had,'' Sharah says. ''The audience was so committed and they've been tweeting me and Facebooking me, asking to hear those songs again. So I'm putting together a cabaret show based on my personal journey through the show and I'll be doing six or seven full songs that were cut to 30-second clips in the show because that was the nature of the beast."

Sharah describes his new cabaret, It's Raining Me, as "an intimate evening with witty repartee sandwiched between really fantastic music".


Rather than regaling the crowd with anecdotes from the piano stool, Sharah will front a three-piece band. "I want to get my big rock hair going," he laughs. "It will be a big, lively, energetic show. We want it to have a nice arc, musically speaking - with lots of light and shade. You don't want to scream at an audience for an hour, but it is right out there. Hopefully, people will have a really rocking time."

He's not likely to make an appearance in drag, though "there is one number that might require a feather boa".

I Will Survive has also provided Sharah with plenty to talk about. "When you think about it, it was the most ridiculous thing. I was on that bloody bus for 3½ months with those other boys. I'm not out to "sabo" anyone by revealing dark and dirty secrets but there will be plenty of what went on behind the scenes."

Sharah's personal highlight of his stint on the show was meeting Rachel Griffiths, who went on to straddle him during an acting exercise.

"Rachel was my favourite guest judge on the show. I just clicked with her straight away and her criticism and feedback was so amazing and detailed."

Reality contestants often point at TV editors for not showing the audience the "real" them. But Sharah says he feels happy about the way he was portrayed.

I want to get my big rock hair going.

Tom Sharah

"There is no denying the power of editing but as long as you're there being your truest self the whole time, I think you can't go wrong. I took the cameras as fly-on-the-wall, what they pick up is what they pick up. And some of my stupid one-liners have taken off in the Twitterverse, so that's an added bonus," he says.

It's Raining Me plays at Slide, 41 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, November 15-16. Tickets from $35 at the door or phone (02) 8915 1899.