You could never accuse Andrew Lloyd Webber of slacking. Just days after premiering his Phantom follow-up, Love Never Dies, it’s straight on to the next big project: his latest reality TV competition to cast Dorothy and Toto in The Wizard of Oz (See News, 11 Sep 2009).

“The search for Dorothy” is now confirmed to commence in a fortnight, with a weekend special on Friday 26 March 2010 at 9pm on BBC One and Saturday 27 March. Initial pre-recorded programmes - will cover the competition process since open auditions began in Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester and London in January. They will be followed with the live studio programmes and weekly public votes from 3 April.

As with the previous series - How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything - Lloyd Webber is reunited with host Graham Norton. However, there’s an all-new panel of expert judges for Over the Rainbow, this time comprising actors Sheila Hancock and John Partridge and classical chart-topper Charlotte Church (See The Goss, 18 Feb 2010).


Graham Norton & Andrew Lloyd Webber prepare to follow the yellow brick road...


They’ll be joined by celebrity judges Sheila Hancock, Charlotte Church & John Partridge.

The resulting stage show of The Wizard of Oz will be produced in the West End by Lloyd Webber’s own Really Useful Group. No dates or creative team details have yet been announced for the musical, but it’s expected to be helmed by Jeremy Sams. Sams directed Lloyd Webber’s production of The Sound of Music, starring Connie Fisher, winner of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, which ran at the London Palladium.

L Frank Baum wrote the first 1903 stage version of his 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The story is best known from the 1939 Hollywood film. The stage musical version, adapted by John Kane from the Warner Bros movie, was premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican in 1987, with a young Imelda Staunton as Dorothy. It has music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and EY Harburg. It last had a major London outing at the Royal Festival Hall in summer 2008, when Sian Brooke played Dorothy in a cast that also featured Gary Wilmot, Adam Cooper and Roy Hudd.

BOOKMARK THE PAGE: We’ll be tuning into each and every episode on our Over the Rainbow blog on Whatsonstage.com ....