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Danielle Wade (centre) beat out AJ Bridel (left) and Stephanie La Rochelle to play the role of Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s (at piano) new version of The Wizard Of Oz.
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Composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber hugs it out with Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Wade.
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Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Wade (left) appears shocked as first-runner-up Stephanie La Rochelle cheers her on.
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Danielle’s career is set to go sky high now that she’s won the role of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, which begins performances December 20.
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Over The Rainbow host Daryn Jones says a final “Nicely done!” to winner Danielle Wade.
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The country has spoken, and Danielle Wade will be travelling down the yellow brick road.
Last night, the 20-year-old from La Salle, Ontario, was chosen by viewers of the CBC TV reality show Over The Rainbow to play Dorothy in the new Mirvish production of The Wizard Of Oz. The musical, based on the classic movie, with new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber, begins performances at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in late December.
"This is incredible," said Wade in an interview following Monday's half-hour finale, where she beat out first-runner-up Stephanie La Rochelle and second-runner up AJ Bridel for the part. "I don't know how to explain how amazing this is. I don't think it'll sink in until we open previews." She pauses and then modestly adds: "The fact that I get to say that sentence is unbelievable."
Early on in the eight-week competition, Wade emerged as the odds-on favourite with her secure voice, natural grace (although she had to learn how to wear high heels during the show) and sunny personality. She never made the bottom two, but didn't let that fact go to her head.
"Every week [I went] into the eliminations with the mentality that I could go home and I needed to sing for my life," she says. "And the fact that Canada never put me in the bottom two is incredible. I can't thank them enough."
Wade begins rehearsals this week for the show, which has just been announced for a North American tour after its Toronto run.
"I'm beyond ready for this," says the woman who had to be convinced by her mother to audition for the show. Her only previous stage experience has been in community theatre. "I have been waiting 20 years to get the chance to do this. That sounds ridiculous, but I can't wait to start working."
Judges Thom Allison and Louise Pitre were thrilled with the results.
"I was praying that these three would make it to the end," says Pitre. "And after that, I was horrified to think that [Canada would] have to choose one and let two of them go. I think Danielle is going to be wonderful, and AJ and Stephanie are assured of pretty nice careers. They've had the most amazing exposure on national TV. I'd pay to go see them [in shows]."
Allison, who had to be helicoptered into the show from Niagara-on-the-Lake's Shaw Festival twice for the program while he was completing his run of the musical Ragtime, says any one of the three would have been fantastic as Dorothy.
"But this is as it should be," he says. "Danielle proved herself each week."
Over The Rainbow not only introduced a bunch of promising musical theatre performers to the world. It also boosted the profile of Daryn Jones, a stand-up comic and broadcaster who executed his hosting duties with panache. Each week, Jones found that fine line between irreverence and respect.
"When I took the job, the directive from the CBC was: ‘Have a good time, you're representing the audience, so go out and enjoy yourself. And I sure did."
It showed. Whether reading from the prompter and making the prepared jokes sound natural, or goofing around with the Dorothys or esteemed guests like Andrea Martin and Kristin Chenoweth, Jones never hit a false note.
The performer left his co-hosting gig at MTV Live last spring to take on duties at the CBC reality show. What's next?
"We've got some things cooking," he says, smiling. "I didn't leave MTV just to do a one-off show. Some things are happening soon."
In the meantime, he's got a snazzy new wardrobe from the show.
"Yes, for Sunday brunch I'll be wearing a Versace tuxedo," he laughs. "I've got to plan to do things now just to get use out of these clothes."