Journey to Oz

NANAIMO: Actress auditions for CBC reality show for chance to play Dorothy

Emily Blake was one of 80 Canadian hopefuls who flew to Toronto to audition for CBC’s Over The Rainbow

Emily Blake was one of 80 Canadian hopefuls who flew to Toronto to audition for CBC’s Over The Rainbow

Emily Blake’s journey on the yellowbrick road ended before she reached the Emerald City.

But even though she didn’t make it to her final destination, she gained valuable experiences along the way.

The 17-year-old Nanaimo actress and singer was one of 80 Canadian hopefuls who auditioned for CBC’s show Over the Rainbow in Toronto before the final cut. The show was on the hunt for the next Dorothy to star in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Wizard of Oz musical set to start this December. Over the Rainbow, similar to other popular reality TV shows, pits contestants against each other and makes the 10 Dorothy finalists battle it out on stage to garner votes from the home audience. CBC’s Over the Rainbow airs Sunday (Sept. 16).

Blake’s mother saw the advertisement for the show while watching CBC. They realized the Vancouver auditions were over, but headed to Calgary for the June 3 tryouts.

“It was so nerve wracking because it was practically my first professional audition,” said Blake, adding singing for casting director Stephanie Gorin was an amazing experience.

She sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow for Gorin. Blake said the casting director told her she might be looking at the next Dorothy when she finished.

“I was just smiling from ear to ear and went and grabbed it (the ticket to the next round) and walked out of the room and giggled,” said Blake. “And then I saw my mom and started crying. It was so emotional.”

Passing the first round meant she had to go to Toronto June 20 for the final elimination while the producers whittled down the girls to the 10 that would appear on the show. In Toronto the hopeful contestants did segments on news channels to promote the upcoming show.

Blake’s final audition was in the evening in front of judges Gorin and choreographer Sean Cheesman.

“You go on a stage that’s all lit up and bright with lights and they have a piano player who is just magnificent,” she said. She sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The character of Dorothy strikes a chord inside Blake.

“She’s a small town girl, which is kind of what I am and is just trying to find what she wants and who she is,” said Blake about Dorothy. “I can relate so much to it.”

The song also has a deep meaning for her.

“I always think about if I was in her position and was completely alone,” said Blake. “It would feel so terrible.”

After performing Blake had to wait for three hours before the final decision was made.

“All you wanted was for your name to be called,” said Blake. “It was just crazy because you didn’t know what they were doing. You couldn’t do anything to help yourself in any way.”

But Blake’s name wasn’t called.

“I was disappointed. It was very emotional and such a long process, but I went and congratulated the others,” she said.

Even though it was disappointing not to be chosen Blake said the audition process gave her knowledge of what to expect in the future as she continues to pursue work in musical theatre. It’s also a great addition to her resume, she added.

Blake is continuing to hone her craft and pursue her dream. People in Nanaimo can see her in two upcoming plays. She’s in the ensemble of Schmooze Productions’ Sweeney Todd, which runs Nov. 8 to Dec. 1 and is the Mad Hatter in Nanaimo Theatre Group’s Alice in PantoLand, which runs Dec. 21 to 31. She also plans to audition for the Woodlands Secondary School production of Alice in Wonderland.