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The Wizard of Oz - Sophie Evans joins cast

Danielle Hope

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SOPHIE Evans, runner up to Danielle Hope in BBC TV’s Over the Rainbow, will get to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz after all – on Tuesday evenings (from March 8, 2011) and during Hope’s holidays (the weeks beginning May 2, September 5 and September 12, 2011).

Another contestant, Lauren Samuels, is also about to tread the West End boards when she takes over the role of Sandy in Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre. Meanwhile, Stephanie Fearon is currently starring alongside Kym Mazelle in Smokey Joe’s Cafe at the Landor Theatre.

Previously Posted: Danielle Hope, an 18-year-old student from Greater Manchester, will play Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revival of The Wizard of Oz, which opens at the London Palladium on March 1, 2011 (previews from February 7).

It was Danielle who emerged victorious at the end of Saturday evening’s second live Over the Rainbow show, beating 17-year-old Sophie Evans (runner-up) and 22-year-old Lauren Samuels (third place).

After the winner was announced a smiling Lloyd Webber said: “You’re the most fantastic, talented kid with a huge future ahead. Now the hard work starts but my goodness me, you can act from the soul and that is something that’s very special.”

The hunt for Toto also came to an end when “Dangerous Dave”, a Mini Schnauzer, was picked to star alongside Danielle in a special gala performance of The Wizard of Oz.

Danielle’s version of Over the Rainbow is now available to download, while a CD will be released on May 31.

Previously Posted: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revival of The Wizard of Oz will not only feature all the songs made famous by Judy Garland in the original 1939 film – Somewhere Over the Rainbow, If I Only Had A Heart, We’re Off To See the Wizard and Follow the Yellow Brick Road – but also a selection of new Lloyd Webber numbers.

It has also been confirmed that the production will be directed by Jeremy Sams, choreographed by Arlene Phillips and designed by Robert Jones, the same creative team that was responsible for Lloyd Webber’s revival of The Sound of Music.

The London Palladium itself will be transformed, and the elaborate stage set will include restoration of the listed theatre’s revolving stage which, many of you will remember, was a key feature of Sunday Night at the London Palladium, a hugely successful TV variety show that ran from 1955 to 1967.

Speaking about the project, Lloyd Webber said: “We are incredibly excited to be adapting The Wizard Of Oz for the stage and re-telling this all time classic family story. I have long been a huge fan of the original movie, the songs and characters and am really looking forward to bringing it to life again.”

Previously Posted: It has now been confirmed that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revival of The Wizard of Oz will start performances at the London Palladium on February 7, 2011.

The show’s young heroine, Dorothy, will be played by the winner of the current BBC One competition Over the Rainbow, which follows the same format as How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything which made stars of Connie Fisher, Lee Mead and Jodie Prenger.

Only the panel has changed, consisting of Charlotte Church, John Partridge and Sheila Hancock, who is currently starring in Sister Act at the London Palladium. Sister Act has now posted closing notices for January 1, 2011, thereby making way for The Wizard of Oz
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The Wizard of Oz is, of course, the story of Dorothy’s epic adventures through the Land of Oz to meet the Wizard. Along the way, she meets the Scarecrow who needs a brain, the Tin Man who wants a heart, a cowardly Lion who desperately needs some courage, and the Wicked Witch of the West.

In 1903, L. Frank Baum adapted his 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, for stage. And in 1939, it was filmed by Hollywood and starred a young Judy Garland as Dorothy. It also included the timeless classic Over the Rainbow. And in summer 2008, a musical version starring Adam Cooper, Gary Wilmot, Roy Hudd and Siân Brooke, was performed at the Royal Festival Hall.

Public booking for The Wizard of Oz opens on May 9, 2010, although readers of the Sun and News of the World newspapers have been given advance access to tickets, thanks to an exclusive deal with the show’s producers.