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Church & Hancock Improve BBC Rainbow Expertise???

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John Barrowman and Denise Van Outen have been high-profile judges in the past two Andrew Lloyd Webber-led musical theatre casting competitions for the BBC, Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything, but they won’t be sitting on the panel for the next one.

For Over the Rainbow, which will find a Dorothy – and a Toto – for a planned West End revival of The Wizard of Oz (See News, 11 Sep 2009), the judges will be Sheila Hancock (who won an Olivier for Cabaret and was Whatsonstage.com and Olivier nominated for her current West End musical role in Sister Act), fellow West End regular John Partridge (who has appeared in Lloyd Webber’s Cats and Starlight Express and is now well known from TV’s EastEnders) and chart-topping classical music singer Charlotte Church.

Of his new team, Lloyd Webber said: “Each member of the panel brings something new and exciting which will take Over the Rainbow even further than the previous shows. We have a fantastic wealth of talent within our judges, and I know they’re going to be bringing some incredibly valuable expertise and opinions in our search for Dorothy.”

Jay Hunt, controller of BBC One, said: “It is hard to find a team of judges who can match Andrew Lloyd Webber in terms of enthusiasm, knowledge and a love of musical theatre but I think we have got them here – they are going to be a huge asset to the show.”

Lloyd Webber has previously said that he wants to find an Amy Winehouse-like Dorothy with attitude via Over the Rainbow (See The Goss, 14 Jan 2010), which is once again hosted by Graham Norton. No dates have yet been set but the programme will begin airing on BBC One this spring. Initial open auditions have already taken place in Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester and London. The TV series is produced by Talkback Thames.

No dates or creative team details have yet been announced for the resulting production of The Wizard of Oz, 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 the first reality TV series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, which ran at the London Palladium, a possible home for The Wizard of Oz.


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