Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
A new line-up of judges will be helping Andrew Lloyd Webber and the nation to decide who will make the perfect Dorothy, in the forthcoming Over The Rainbow for BBC One.
Charlotte Church, Sheila Hancock and John Partridge (Christian Clarke, EastEnders) are to form the expert panel providing insightful opinions and comments but, ultimately, the viewers determine the rightful heir of those famous ruby red slippers.
Over The Rainbow will reunite host Graham Norton and Andrew Lloyd Webber who, along with the panel of experts and BBC One viewers, will choose a Dorothy to perform in the West End production next year.
The show will transmit in Spring 2010.
Andrew Lloyd Webber commented: "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."
Charlotte Church added: "I'm so looking forward to working with Andrew – he's an icon of the music industry, and a real hero of mine.
"My career started with Pie Jesu which was, of course, written by Andrew, so it feels like I've come full circle!"
John Partridge confirmed: "Musical theatre has always been my first love – it's where I began my career – so I'm hugely excited to be joining the panel.
"I can't wait to work with Andrew again and to see what talent the country has to offer. Dorothy is such an iconic role, for so many reasons!"
Currently appearing in the musical Sister Act in the West End, Sheila Hancock commented: "I've had an interesting and varied career so now I am looking forward to working with the panel and Andrew to seek out some fantastic new talent.
"I'm enthusiastic about a TV series which shows the ins and outs of live theatre, and Over The Rainbow will do just that.
"The Wizard Of Oz has to be one of the most well-known and best loved musicals, so it's lovely to be involved in the process of updating it for new audiences."
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."
The search for Dorothy has already begun.
Auditions have taken place in five UK cities – Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester and London – and contestants are currently working their way through the ongoing audition process.
Charlotte Church became an international sensation with the release of her debut album, Voice Of An Angel, in 1998. It sold more than four million copies worldwide and made her the youngest artist ever with a number one album. By 2006 Charlotte began hosting her very own series, The Charlotte Church Show, for Channel 4. In 2007 she gave birth to her first child, Ruby, and son Dexter followed in 2009.
John Partridge trained in ballet from a young age, and went on to train specifically in musical theatre. His first appearance on stage was on tour in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, playing Rum Tum Tugger. Other theatre credits include: Starlight Express, Tommy, Grease, Rent, Notre Dame de Paris, Miss Saigon and The Drowsy Chaperone.
Sheila Hancock has appeared in numerous theatre, film and tv roles over many years. Musical theatre credits include: Annie, Sweeney Todd and Cabaret. Sheila is currently appearing in Sister Act. She is also the author of The Two Of Us, a memoir of her marriage to John Thaw, which won her the 2005 British Book Industry Author of the Year Award.
The series will be made by TalkbackThames. Executive producer is Suzy Lamb, who will be reunited with Andrew having exec-produced his previous musical theatre productions for the BBC.
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