CBC-TV's 'Over the Rainbow' narrows down field of Dorothys in national callbacks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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CBC-TV's 'Over the Rainbow' narrows down field of Dorothys in national callbacks

Toronto's Malindi Ayienga, 16, auditions for the role of Dorothy during the CBC auditions for the new Mirvish play Over The Rainbow in Toronto on Thursday, June 21, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

TORONTO - A.J. Bridel of Kitchener, Ont., has been in love with the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" and its star, Judy Garland, since as far back as she can remember.

The 18-year-old singer-actress says her grandmother was born the year the Oscar-winning movie was released and often talked about it and encouraged her to watch when she was young.

"She always said to me, 'Oh, you're going to play Dorothy some day,' and I was like, 'Oh grandma!'"

On Thursday, Bridel was one step closer to that dream as she and 87 other Dorothy hopefuls from across Canada attended callback auditions for CBC-TV's upcoming series "Over the Rainbow," which is searching for a lead in a Toronto production of "The Wizard of Oz" that's set to open at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in December.

"This has been an amazing experience so far," said Bridel. "I mean, these girls are SO talented, so talented, and so nice. It's not as much of a competition as it is an amazing experience.

"It's a joy ride, you know what I mean?"

The callback auditions were held to pick the Top 20, who will get to a "Dorothy Farm" and meet the musical's legendary co-creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Hopeful Kylie McCullough of Lindsay, Ont., had a bit of a leg up on some of the competition, having already been in a production of "The Wizard of Oz" in her hometown when she was young.

"I got a munchkin (role) and I was so in love with the part of Dorothy and I'm like, 'When I get older, I want to play that part,'" she said.

"And I'm finally 16 and the age of Dorothy and I just jumped right to it."

Sherry Blake of Nanaimo, B.C., said her 17-year-old daughter, Emily, starred as Dorothy in a high-school production of "The Wizard of Oz" and has memorabilia from it displayed around her room.

"This is what she wants to do for her life," she said. "This is the big dream."

CBC should be applauded for creating the series, she added.

"I think it's wonderful to allow girls from across the country this opportunity," said Blake.

"My daughter wouldn't have this opportunity living on the island."

The countrywide casting call for Dorothy wannabes began June 1 in Vancouver. A publicist for the series said Toronto had the biggest turnout with over 500 hopefuls.

"Dorothy should be able to play a 16-year-old girl, she has to have innocence to her, she's got to have a fantastic voice," said Stephanie Gorin, casting director for the series that will debut this fall and will allow viewers to pick the winner.

"Somebody who sings 'Over the Rainbow' has to be able to sing it so beautifully that everybody stands up and (gasps) when they hear it because it's that wonderful. And someone who's got natural acting ability or perhaps they've trained as an actor, but they're able to put across a story."

Gorin also did the countrywide casting for CBC-TV's 2008 series "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" in which viewers picked Elicia MacKenzie of Surrey, B.C., as winner of the lead role in a Toronto production of "The Sound of Music."

"From what I saw from 'Maria'... I think the Canadian public has good taste," said Gorin.

Renowned Calgary-bred choreographer Sean Cheesman was also judging in the national callbacks, in which hopefuls ranged in age from about 16 to 24. The panel of judges for the TV series hasn't been announced yet.

Gorin said she's already found the talent for the rest of the roles in the all-Canadian cast.

Talent scouts have also narrowed the search for the show's canine star, Toto, down to a field of 10. Those fidos will also be part of the live TV series.

"We found a blind dog, the most adorable, cute one-eyed dog you've ever seen in your entire life, we've got a German Shepherd, we've got the cute little puffy dog, so it goes right across the gamut there," said host Daryn Jones.

"So that's part of the competition too, live dogs, on television, also being sent home. I don't think they'll care as much when they're voted off. I don't think they'll have any clue. They'll follow the dog treats that we leave around the studio and that's it."

Starting in September, Jones will introduce the 10 Dorothy finalists who will compete live on "Over the Rainbow" Sunday nights on CBC-TV.

The half-hour results episodes will air on Monday nights.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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