Wizard Of Oz reality in Bim
Sun, September 23, 2012 - 12:00 AM
You’re more likely to find hurricanes than tornadoes in this part of the world, but the 20 young women who were competing for the role of Dorothy in the upcoming Toronto production of The Wizard Of Oz were prepared for stormy weather.
It was all part of Over The Rainbow, the reality TV series that premiered two Sundays ago on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) at 8 p.m. It will eventually allow Canadians to choose who plays Dorothy in the Mirvish production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber mounting of the show, which starts performances in Toronto in December.
In the meantime, those 20 women chosen from the dozens picked in cross-country auditions in June, were in Barbados to be winnowed down to ten finalists, a difficult process for the hopefuls involved.
If it all sounds familiar, it’s because a similar procedure helped Elicia MacKenzie land the role of Maria in The Sound Of Music in 2008 through the CBC TV show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
On that occasion, the aspiring young women went to Salzburg, which made sense for that musical. But why Barbados for The Wizard Of Oz? Wouldn’t Kansas have been more appropriate?
Ah, but Sir Andrew doesn’t have a home in Kansas and he does in Barbados.
In fact, his estate was where ten of the 20 candidates were cut.
“This is the eighth programme of this type I’ve done over the years,” Lloyd Webber said, unwinding over a glass of white wine in a local hotel, “and they’re all different and yet somehow they’re the same. The secret is in trying to get to the essence of just what this particular role needs from the person you cast in it.”
In this case, Judy Garland’s portrayal in the 1939 MGM movie casts a very long shadow, as does the memory of all the thousands of people who have sung Over The Rainbow through the decades, but Lloyd Webber knows what he’s looking for.
“This is about a girl who wants to break loose from her home environment and while she has to be feisty, she also has to be adorable.”
Lloyd Webber and his choreographer Arlene Phillips looked at the 20 candidates and decided which ten would return to Canada.
Back home in Canada after two episodes, Kelsey Verzotti, 17, of Calgary, was the first of the ten final Dorothys to be sent home in the first elimination round.
In a ruthless sing-off to What I Did For Love? the two duelled it out, with Julia Gartha’s trembling vulnerability giving her the edge over Verzotti’s perfect shell.
Here are the other nine candidates: Michelle Bouey, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, 21; AJ (Amanda Jeanette) Bridel, Kitchener, Ontario, 18; Colleen Furlan, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 19; Julia Gartha, Unionville, Ontario, 17; Jennifer Kristine Gillis, Coquitlam, British Columbia, 16; Cassandra Hodgins, London, Ontario, 17; Stephanie La Rochelle, Ottawa, 17; Jessie Munro, Toronto, 18; Danielle Wade, LaSalle, Ontario, 20. (Canada Star)
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