The Mail on Sunday

No riches at the end of the rainbow for Lloyd Webber’sToto

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IT IS the talent contest that threatens to overshadow the search for an actress to play Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard Of Oz – the hunt for a dog to play her companion, Toto.

But while the girl who wins the role of Dorothy on the BBC show Over The Rainbow will go on to star in the West End production of The Wizard Of Oz, the winning dog must make do with a one-off charity gala performanc­e. The role will subsequent­ly be filled by profession­ally trained dogs.

Next week, Lloyd Webber’s team will spend two days auditionin­g hundreds of pets. The panel which will choose the hound for the gala show includes I’d Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger, who played Nancy in Lloyd Webber’s revival of Oliver!, along with animal experts Gerry Cott and Sarah Fisher. Lloyd Webber, a cat lover, will not be involved.

The panel is looking for a ‘happy dog’ with ‘a spring in its step and in tip-top condition’, and an ability to work with other people.

After the initial auditions at the Kennel Club in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshi­re, ten finalists will undergo more tests to be featured on Over The Rainbow.

Toby Rose, who runs the Palm Dog award at the Cannes Film Festival for the best canine performanc­e in movies, says it is unfair that the winner will not win a permanent role in the production. He said: ‘Yet again, dogs get short-changed in the fearsome world of showbusine­ss.’

But Over The Rainbow host Graham Norton said: ‘We’re talking about a family pet. They might not want to spend months in a kennel in London.’

 ??  ?? COMPANION: Judy Garland as Dorothy with Toto in the 1939 film
COMPANION: Judy Garland as Dorothy with Toto in the 1939 film

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