The winner of CBC's reality show Over the Rainbow had barely caught her breath after her win before beginning rehearsals for a Toronto production of The Wizard of Oz. 

Danielle Wade, a 20-year-old theatre student from LaSalle, Ont., was chosen by a TV audience from among 10 finalists in the reality TV show.

She says it still doesn’t seem real.


Danielle Wade is diving into rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz. (CBC)

"I know that seems ridiculous because we're in the third week of rehearsal but it still doesn't register in my head that I won, that this is actually happening," she told CBC News.

"I don't think it will until Dec. 20 when there's a real audience and people actually have to clap and like it."

Wade dove right into rehearsals for the production of the musical created by Andrew Lloyd Webber – which meant learning new songs, new dances and how to share the stage with fellow cast members.  Wade says everything’s a challenge – but particularly co-ordination.

"Everything is still fresh and we're still rehearsing," Wade said. "Nothing's perfect yet, but it's so much fun to see how it can change as you go through the process.  My interpretation of Dorothy from the beginning to now is so different, it's amazing. I can't wait to see what happens in the next couple of weeks  with costumes and lighting and sets."

The young performer says a couple of buses from her hometown in southwestern Ontario are already lined up to bring people to Toronto to see her on stage.

Arlene Phillips, a British choreographer and judge for Over the Rainbow, is working with Wade to prepare her for opening night. Phillips says Canada chose well in selecting Wade.

"Hidden, even in what she showed us, hidden behind her was the most extraordinary talent," Phillips said. "I hadn't realized that over the eight weeks until I saw her in this rehearsal room, working with Toto and saying the words from The Wizard of Oz with such depth."

Wade is never off the stage during the production and she’s facing eight shows a week, so she’s going to need stamina and nerves of steel, Phillips said.

"She has to build her stamina. She has to know that she can sing and dance and speak this show and work with the dog eight shows a week. That's very very hard. Also she's never performed on this scale before. When she gets out there cannot lose her nerve."

The Wizard of Oz begins Dec. 20 at the Ed Mirvish theatre in Toronto.