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OVER THE RAINBOW: Jessica Pinkett's Weekly Round-Up

After a two-year break, Andrew Lloyd-Webber has returned with what he claims will be the last of his televised searches for a West End star. This time, the role he hopes to fill is Dorothy in a new stage version of The Wizard of Oz, which will include new songs written by Lloyd-Webber as well as classics such as We're Off to See the Wizard and of course Over the Rainbow. The series began this weekend, with ninety minutes showing the first three rounds of auditions on Friday, and another ninety minutes on Saturday where the top twenty performed in groups of four. From these twenty, the judges chose ten and the voting lines were opened for the public to choose one more girl to join the others in the live finals.

The format is very much the same as previous series. Graham Norton returns as presenter and Andrew is of course head judge, with the only major change being the rest of the panel. John Barrowman, Denise Van Outen and the ever-changing 'other one' have been replaced with stars of stage and (TV) screen Sheila Hancock and John Partridge, and child opera star turned TV presenter Charlotte Church. Charlotte fills the now mandatory role of the glamorous young singer on the panel (cf. Cheryl Cole on The X Factor, Alesha Dixon on Strictly Come Dancing, Emma Bunton on Dancing On Ice), but she has so far demonstrated herself as worthy of the job, giving insightful and useful comments with the exception of one "fair dos".

Andrew has repeatedly stated that he hopes to find a young, 'contemporary' Dorothy, and suitably the first song the auditionees had to sing on Saturday's programme was a recent pop hit. The girls performed songs by the Noisettes, Pixie Lott, Rihanna, Duffy and Taylor Swift, and the judges complimented their favourites and dished out constructive criticism to the others. This was followed by a musical theatre number from each group, with special coaching from five current West End leading ladies: Melanie C, Ruthie Henshall, Tamsin Outhwaite, SheriDan Smith and Kerry Ellis. Performances were, as always, made all the more entertaining by Andrew's odd facial expressions while the girls sang.

The ten chosen girls were a predictable bunch, mostly being young, pretty brunettes who fit the Judy Garland image of Dorothy. Condensing the audition process into two programmes meant that no-one has particularly stood out so far, but curly-haired teenager Dani seems to be the early Lloyd-Webber favourite. The solo songs next week should give a much better idea of who this year's stars will be. And if none of them turn out to be worth watching, the search for Dorothy's dog Toto is sure to provide some entertainment. The series continues next Saturday at 7.25pm on BBC1.


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From This Author Jessica Pinkett

Jessica Pinkett recently graduated from the University of Sussex and is now embarking upon a career in the music industry. She has recently moved to (read more...)