North Stars

‘Wizard of Oz’ star Danielle Wade’s biggest fear? Singing ‘Over the Rainbow’

Danielle Wade (CBC)

"Over the Rainbow" winner Danielle Wade just needs to get over the rainbow.

In a new interview with Metro, the 20-year-old Ontario native admitted she fears the classic tune, which she performs in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Toronto production of "The Wizard of Oz."

“That’s my most terrifying moment,” said Wade, who won the role of Dorothy after winning CBC's reality competition last year. “'Over the Rainbow' is the scariest part of the show to me because it is so memorable. Everyone knows the words.”

See also: LaSalle, Ontario, native Danielle Wade wins 'Over the Rainbow'

Wade knew there would be inevitable comparisons with the original Dorothy, Judy Garland, who turned the character into an icon in the 1939 film version of "Oz." To minimize the comparisons, Wade decided to make her onstage alter ago less ladylike.

“[Dorothy] sits more like a tomboy and plays with her dress because she’s not used to wearing one," she explained. “I knew going into it that there was going to be a standard Dorothy that people expect, but I’m not Judy Garland, so I can’t be Judy Garland.”

Wade won raves for her performance of "Over the Rainbow" on the CBC competition series in 2012. However, the theatre reviews for "Wizard of Oz," which debuted last month, have played into her fears, inevitably comparing her with her iconic predecessor.

"As Dorothy, Danielle Wade -- plucked from the CBC’s 'Over the Rainbow' talent show -- is a troubled teen rising above her troubles, and does much to keep the show on the Yellow Brick Road (one of the better design elements, incidentally)," wrote Robert Cushman in the National Post. "It isn’t her fault the song 'Over the Rainbow' is now so crusted in mythology that it’s impossible to accept as part of a story (and the rainbow itself looks very cut-rate)."

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Martin Morrow at The Grid added that he didn't think Wade was affecting enough, writing that she "is a credible Judy Garland clone, but while she can melt a wicked witch, she doesn’t melt your heart."

Oddly enough, the most critical review of Wade's performance praised her rendition of the song she fears.

"Wade does have a lovely singing voice. And, early on, when she gets to that beautiful Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg classic, 'Over the Rainbow,' things seem to be headed in the right direction," wrote J. Kelly Nestruck in The Globe and Mail. "But Dorothy doesn’t actually sing all that much after that -- and, in scene after scene, Wade keeps hitting the same note -- whiny rather than yearning. The 20-year-old from Lasalle, Ont., has adopted a girlish voice for Dorothy that often feels very put on."

In the end, the Globe reviewer agreed with the other critics that "stage productions tend to ride on the coattails of fond memories of the original film with Judy Garland."

How do you think Wade's version of "Over the Rainbow" compares with Garland's?