Over the Rainbow …

So, I’ve picked up yet another guilty pleasure. Not this past Sunday, but the Sunday before, I was flipping channels after the football game, and came across a little show on CBC called “Over the Rainbow”, which is a show aimed at choosing the part of Dorothy for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of “The Wizard of Oz”. It caught my interest, and so I watched that episode, which was a re-run of the results episode from the previous week, and then later watching the Sunday performance episode. And so now I try to watch it.

As guilty pleasures go, though, at least you can get some intellectual props from liking it. After all, it is theatre; musical theatre, but theatre nonetheless.

They’re now down to the final five (and, no, Colonel Tigh is not one of them), and so as you might expect all of the girls/young women left can sing. And when I say that, I don’t mean that they’re decent singers. No, I mean they can sing; they’re extraordinary singers. So what’s left between them are other factors like acting ability and the ability to make a role come alive as opposed to making a song come alive.

Which is why it disappoints me that they don’t do a lot of actual acting in their performances, at least not yet. On this past episode, Cassandra, Colleen and maybe Stephanie did pieces that were more aimed at telling a story through music than in just singing to the audience. It’s one thing to get the audience involved when you can play to them, and quite another to get them involved when you have to interact as if they aren’t there. Danielle, for the second week in a row, did a piece that didn’t actually involve acting and yet managed to act (she did an excellent rendition of “Moon River” the week before that was amazing and seemed like a window into the situation; this week’s was less impressive but still did include acting). I’d like to see her actually do musical acting, though. But AJ and Jessie — who was the Dorothy sent home this week — did pretty much pure performance pieces, and played to the audience more.

As for the performances, I think that Cassandra nailed it in terms of musical acting. She arguably had the best performance of the night, and certainly had the best acting performance. Colleen’s acting wasn’t there, as the judges pointed out. In my case, as a musically interested lay-person, I had to look at the set and listen to the lyrics to find out what was going on in that scene, and I really shouldn’t need to do that. Stephanie’s performance was good, showed off some versatility compared to her breakout performance the week before, but seemed a bit lackluster to me. Danielle was, as I said, strong. AJ’s performance was a wow moment, but again there was no acting in it. Jessie’s was weak. And so it should be no surprise that the two girls with the least votes were: Jessie and … Cassandra?!?

This, it seems to me, is becoming a habit for this show. The week before, Stephanie had a breakout performance … and was in the bottom two, alongside Jennifer whose performance was weak. This week, Cassandra had what I felt was a breakout performance … and was in the bottom two as voted by the viewers. This shows the perils of viewer voting; the choices are often based more on a feeling of personal loyalty than on actual merit. And having the results come up like this makes the idea that the sing-off is the deciding factor strained. What you had was Jessie with a weak Sunday performance against Cassandra who had a strong one, and previously Jennifer who had a weak performance against Stephanie who had a strong one. Sure, the sing-off could overcome that impression … if, say, the one with the weaker performance has an absolutely amazing sing-off and the other singer flubs it. But, really, how likely is that to actually happen?

Now, the head judge who gets to “save” a Dorothy (somebody saaaaaave, meee!) always pitches it like the sing-off is what will matter and what does matter. But in the three results shows I’ve seen, I think it’s arguable that the person who did the worst in the sing-off was the one saved. I love Cassandra, but Jessie’s sing-off was arguably stronger, at least in my opinion. The previous week, I thought Jennifer’s interpretation of the song worked better than Stephanie’s. But the one who did at least as well if not better was sent home with comments that it was the sing-off that decided. Sorry, I don’t buy it, and trying to sell that doesn’t work when reality seems to be contradicting it.

Anyway, personally I think that Danielle has the inside track at winning it all. She really does seem really talented and doesn’t seem to ever miss a beat. But, personally, given a choice I’d rather see Cassandra win, and if not her then AJ. Part of this is that I think they have looks that match Dorothy better, and stand out a bit, especially Cassandra and her glasses. Whenever I think about the show, I always have to look back and see which song Danielle, Colleen and Stephanie actually did since physically they’re so much alike … but then their looks, to me, don’t really have the personality that Cassandra and AJ express. So, given the choice, I’d rather see them win and possibly break some stereotypes. That being said, I’m pretty sure neither of them will win, which is a bit sad. I kinda expect Cassandra to be gone soon, although AJ might make it a bit further.

Oh, and on one final note: the host, Daryn Jones, is not a very good host. He’s not funny. I try to ignore him when I can.

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