Children and Dogs! TV Competition Will Decide Dorothy and Toto of Canadian Wizard of Oz
By Kenneth Jones
"Over the Rainbow," a CBC television talent competition this fall, will decide who gets cast as "Dorothy" — and her little dog, too — in the Canadian premiere of The Wizard of Oz, the London musical drawing on the classic film and incorporating new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Regional auditions throughout Canada will begin the first week of June leading to ten finalists appearing this fall on the TV series.
Lloyd Webber, the revival's producer and the composer of Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar, will be among the panelists overseeing the competition. Comic and media personality Daryn Jones is the series host. Producers are also auditioning dogs to play Dorothy's sidekick, Toto.
Expect "eight jam-packed, toe-tapping, music-filled weeks of competition" to find Dorothy, "a teenager who wants to break free from her life and see the world," according to production notes. The competition also addresses acting and dancing.
Each week, Canadian viewers will vote for their favorites online, "until one Dorothy is left standing." She will play the leading lady in the Toronto engagement of The Wizard of Oz starting in December 2012 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.
"Whoever gets this role is almost certainly going to have a major career in theatre," Lloyd Webber said in an audio promotion on the CBC website. The "Maria" of producer Lloyd Webber's earlier productions of The Sound of Music in London and Toronto was also picked via televised competition.
Judy Garland created the role of Kansas orphan Dorothy in the 1939 M-G-M musical film version of the L. Frank Baum story "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
The initial audition is open to females 16 years old and up, and they must sing the classic Harold Arlen-E.Y. Harburg song "Over the Rainbow," in the key of B, a cappella.
"There is no upper age limit, but applicants should keep in mind that the character of Dorothy is a teenager," according to the producers.
As in London, Jeremy Sams (The Sound of Music, Broadway's 13, Noises Off) will direct The Wizard of Oz.
For more information, visit the CBC.ca website.
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