The first two episodes of Over the Rainbow, which aired this past Friday and Saturday, covered the months of open auditions across the country, from which 20 potential Dorothys were put through their paces by Lloyd Webber and the celebrity judges Sheila Hancock, Charlotte Church and offered advice by West End leading ladies Sheridan Smith, Tamzin Outhwaite, Kerry Ellis and former Spice Girl Melanie C before being whittled down to the last ten.
The finalists selected by the judges are: Bronte Barbe (18), Stephanie Davies (17), Amy Diamond (22), Jenny Douglas (18), Sophie Evans (17), Steph Fearon (21), Danielle Hope (17), Dani Rayner (16), Jessica Robinson (18) and Lauren Samuels (22).
Several of the Dorothys have experience in youth theatre and local drama groups. Diamond had a small part on TV’s Hustle, while Davies has appeared in programmes including Doctors and Holby City. And Fearon hails from a family of performers; her mother is Baby D, who had a 1990s hit with “Let Me Be Your Fantasy”, and her father was a member of the 1980s band Galaxy. Evans competed in the 2008 series of The X Factor, making it as far as the boot camp stage.
For Over the Rainbow, a new “wild card” element has been added to the BBC competition formula. Viewers can vote for their 11th Dorothy who will join the final ten and continue to compete for the role of Dorothy. The winner of the wild card will be announced during the first live show this Saturday 3 April 2010.
From now until the end of the series, the sing-off programmes will air live on Saturday nights, with the result shows, which are recorded immediately after the live episodes, transmitted on Sunday evenings. The first results show is broadcast this Sunday 4 April 2010 at 6.20pm.
In addition to casting Dorothy, Over the Rainbow comprises a hunt for a Toto for The Wizard of Oz, albeit only for a one-off gala performance. I’d Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger has been enlisted to aid Lloyd Webber and two animal trainers in the search, which will not be voted for by the public. The winning dog will be announced in the final show.