Sunday, May 23, 2010

Over The Rainbow: Danielle Hope is the public's Dorothy after beating Sophie Evans in the final
By Emily Sheridan

A girl's best friend: Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope gets to know her 'Toto', aka Dangerous Dave

Mancunian student Danielle Hope has been chosen as the star of the new West End production of The Wizard Of Oz after winning Over The Rainbow.

The 18-year-old brunette beat Welsh redhead Sophie Evans to the coveted role of Dorothy in the Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber show on the BBC talent show tonight.

Unsurprisingly in third place, was 22-year-old Lauren Samuels from Leicestershire. who had been in the bottom two three times already.

Shock: Hope reacts after finding out she has beaten Sophie Evans (left) to play Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz on the London stage

After finding out from host Graham Norton she had been chosen to play Dorothy, a gracious Hope said: 'I really, really don't think a thank you is enough. For the amazing public and everyone who comes to support us every week and the girls. Thank you and it comes from the heart and we all for this amazing opportunity.'

Obviously pleased with the public's choice, Lord Lloyd-Webber enthused: 'I'm really pleased with result. You're a fantastic talented kid.

'The nation hasn't got it wrong yet. My goodness me, you can act from the soul, and that's very, very special.'

Reality sinks in: Hope laughed with delight after being told she had won

She then took off her sparkly silver shoes and stepped into the famous ruby red slippers, looking every inch the Kansas farm girl in her blue gingham.

As well as landing a West End role, Hope is now a pop singer after Norton announced her version of Over The Rainbow would be released as a single, with proceeds going to Prostate UK.

Hope was chosen by public votes after being whittled down from the original 9,000 who auditioned back in January.

There's no place like home: Hope boarded a hot air balloon back home to Kansas

Click your heels and say there's no place like home: Hope puts on the ruby red slippers

Together with Lord Lloyd-Webber and the judging panel, Charlotte Church, Sheila Hancock and John Partridge, Hope receiving consistently positive praise for her performances during the live shows.

However, despite winning the public vote tonight, Hope had ended up in the bottom two during the live shows and was twice saved by the Lord.

On tonight's show, she sang three solo songs, including a reprise of Mambo Italiano by Bob Merrill, which she had performed in a previous episode.

Close contest: Hope went head-to-head with Welsh redhead Evans in the second half of the final

Wowing the public: Hope performed Seventy Six Trombones and Mambo Italiano

Hope wasn't the only one triumphant on Over The Rainbow, a Mini Schnauzer named Dangerous Dave was named as the winner of the search for a Toto segment.

Owner Rachel Owen, who lives in the Lake District, was thrilled after the Lord and her three judging panellists decided he would play Toto in a one-off gala performance of The Wizard Of Oz later this year.

Saturday's show kicked off the three finalists performing with the remaining eight Dorothys that had been eliminated each week since the series began in March.

The 11 Dorothy wannabes were joined by the tin man, scarecrow, lion and munchkins as they performed Merry Old Land Of Oz.

Evans was the first to perform a solo, singing Tomorrow from Annie.

Hancock said: 'You've got an old-fashioned allure. The camera loves you. The way you lived that song was beautiful.'

Third place: Lauren Samuels, 22, sang Over The Rainbow after becoming the first to be voted off in the final

It's a dog life: Introducing the new Toto, aka Dangerous Dave

Church was equally glowing for her fellow Welshwoman: 'You've grown so much, you've taken the biggest journey and you brush up rather nicely. Your face is so emotive.'

Lord Lloyd-Webber acknowledged Evans needed a bit of work on her movement: 'You did it really, really beautifully. If you win, we're gonna have to work on that dance.'

Second to sing was Samuels with I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady, which saw her hit a B flat note.

Where's your courage: Evans joined the two finalists to sing If I Only Had A Brain with the lion, tin man and scarecrow

Partridge was full of praise: 'This competition is to find a leading lady and that's what you are. You are a producer's dream. I think you are sensational.'

Hancock risked the ire of producers when she said 't**s' as she admitted she misjudged Samuels in the beginning.

She said: 'In the beginning, you were a bit all eyes, t**s and teeth... I don't care, its the final, they can't sack me. The last high note was pure joy. You allowed joy to come out after previously holding back.'

In it to win it: Samuels sang I Could Have Danced All Night (left), while Evans performed Tomorrow

Hope receiving winning praise from Partridge with her first performance of the night, Seventy Six Trombones from The Music Man.

He said: 'You never ever disappoint me. You are sensational. A worthy follower of Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, and of course, Sheila Hancock. You are a star.'

The three finalists then went on to If I Only Had a Brain with the tin man, scarecrow and lion.

They've found their Dorothy... and their Toto: Hope and Dave join the judging panel Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sheila Hancock, Charlotte Church, John Partridge and Norton


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