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Legally Blonde is a musical based on the Amanda Brown novel and the 2001 film of the same name. The musical features a book by Heather Hach, music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, with direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell.

After a pre-Broadway tryout in San Francisco, Californiamarker, the musical opened on Broadwaymarker on April 29, 2007 to mostly positive reviews. The musical was recorded for MTV in September 2007 and aired in October 2007.

Legally Blonde played its final performance on Broadway on October 19, 2008. The US national tour began in September 2008.

Productions

Original Broadway Production

After a tryout at the San Franciscomarker's Golden Gate Theatre from January 23 - February 24, 2007, Legally Blonde opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on April 29 2007, following previews from April 3. The production was directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, with set design by David Rockwell, costume design by Gregg Barnes, and lighting design by Kenneth Posner and Paul Miller. The original Broadway cast included Laura Bell Bundy in the lead role of Elle Woods. The cast also featured Christian Borle, Orfeh and Michael Rupert. The show received mostly positive reviews and was nominated for seven Tony Awards but did not win any.

During the week ending June 24, 2007, the Broadway production achieved a milestone, joining the millionaires' club for weekly Broadway grosses, by grossing $1,003,282.The musical was filmed for television in front of a live audience on September 18, 2007, as well as two other dates where it was filmed in an empty theatre. The three performances edited together were broadcast on the MTV network on October 13 and 14, 2007 with subsequent air dates on November 3 and 14, 2007. MTV's involvement with the musical continued with a reality show program called Legally Blonde - The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods, which aimed to cast the next actress to play Elle Woods on Broadway, replacing actress Laura Bell Bundy. The show was hosted by Haylie Duff, and premiered on June 2, 2008 on MTV. The competition was won by Bailey Hanks, age 20, from Anderson, South Carolina. The results were first aired on July 21, 2008 on MTV. Her debut as Elle Woods was the 2:00 P.M. showing on Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at the Palace Theatre on Broadway. The runner-up, Autumn Hurlbert, also debuted on Broadway in this show as a sorority sister in Delta Nu.

The production closed on October 19, 2008 after playing 30 preview and 595 regular performances.

US National Tour

A U.S.marker touring production started on September 23, 2008. Actress Becky Gulsvig, who appeared in the ensemble of the original Broadway cast and understudied the role of Elle Woods, leads the first national tour as Elle Woods. Lauren Ashley Zakrin and Rhiannon Hansen, both finalists of the MTV reality show, will also perform in the national tour with Zakrin as Elle's understudy/ ensemble and Hansen as Margot. For six weeks following January 13, 2009, the lead role was alternated by Laura Bell Bundy and Zakrin due to an injury suffered by Gulsvig.

Rhiannon Hansen (Margot), has already played Elle Woods in the tour. Traditionally, the actor who plays Margot will have the chance to play Elle Woods (e.g., Annaleigh Ashford, Haven Burton and Kate Rockwell).

October 2009, Lauren Ashley Zakrin (Leilani, u/s Elle Woods) left the show. She will be replaced by Kathleen Monteleone who was a contestant in the reality show "Grease: You're The One That I Want". Kathleen will also be understudying the role of Elle Woods.

Original West End Production

The West Endmarker production is scheduled to open at the Savoy Theatremarker on January 13, 2010, following previews from 5 December 2009. The role of Elle Woods will be played by British comedy actress Sheridan Smith. Ex-Blue boyband member Duncan James will play Warner opposite Smith. Aoife Mulholland, the West End actress will play Brooke Windham and Susan McFadden will play Serena. Caroline Keiff will also appear in the musical potraying Vivienne Kensington. Peter Davison has been cast as Professor Callahan and Jill Halfpenny will play the role of Paulette Bonafonté.

International Productions

In August 2008 V&V Entertainment, a Dutch producer, announced that they will be the first to translate and bring the musical in 2010 to The Netherlands after the National Tour of Hairspray, the production is scheduled to premiere on 10 October 2010.

The Philippine production, to be staged by Manila-based Atlantis Productions, has been announced. The English language production is scheduled to premiere in June 2010 with direction by Chari Arespacochaga.. Filipina singer, actress and television host Nikki Gil will play Elle Woods. Singer/Song Writer Nyoy volante will play Emmett Forrest and Singer/Actress Gretchen Barretto will play Exercise queen, Brook Wyndham.

A Koreanmarker production is scheduled to open at the Seoulmarker SamSungDong CoEX Atrium in November 2009. It stars Jessica Jung of the famous Korean girl group Girls' Generation as Elle Woods. The cast will also include Kim Dongwook, Jeon Sookyung, Chu Junghwa and Kim Jongjin.

Synopsis

Act I

The overjoyed girls of UCLAmarker's sorority Delta Nu, led by Margot, Serena, and Pilar, celebrate the imminent engagement of Warner Huntington III to their perky, sweet, and very blonde sorority president, Elle Woods, who is fretting over finding the perfect dress for the occasion ("Omigod You Guys"). Once she acquires her dream dress, the girls send Elle off to dinner with Warner, where he tells Elle that he needs someone more "Serious" and breaks up with her. Elle is devastated and sulks for twelve days ("Daughter of Delta Nu") but comes up with a plan to win back Warner after seeing a picture of his brother's fiancée. She decides to chase Warner to Harvard Law Schoolmarker to show him that she can be serious. With help from Delta Nu sister Kate, Elle studies for the LSATs. In place of writing a personal essay, Elle bursts into the Harvard admission offices backed by a squad of cheerleaders. Despite first being turned down, she is ultimately accepted after revealing that she's motivated by love. ("What You Want").

Elle's snobby classmates disapprove of her attire, and the only person who is willing to help her out is the law teaching assistant, Emmett Forrest ("The Harvard Variations"). However, he cannot protect her in class with the blood-thirsty Professor Callahan ("Blood in the Water"). Callahan kicks the under-prepared Elle out of class at the suggestion of her classmate Vivienne Kensington, who happens to be Warner's new girlfriend. This tragedy summons the apparitions of the sisters of Delta Nu, who, acting as a Greek Chorus visible and audible only to Elle, tell her to stay ("Positive"), and suggest ways of winning Warner back. Elle, deciding that being blonde is the problem, decides to become a brunette. She heads to the salon where she meets the spunky beautician Paulette, who tells Elle that when she is down, she puts on her favorite CD, and dreams of "Ireland". At the salon, Vivienne gives Elle an unexpected invitation to a costume party. Paulette sends Elle off with a costume for the party, her positivity and blonde hair still intact ("Ireland (Reprise)").

Walking into the party as a Playboy bunny, Elle realizes that she has been tricked by Vivienne into thinking it was a costume party, but, with courage, Elle seeks out Warner in an effort to win him back, leaving him unimpressed ("Serious (Reprise)"). Elle runs away from the party, only to run into Emmett, who struggles to understand Elle's love problems. He slowly gets Elle to re-examine her priorities until she realizes it's her very obsession with Warner that keeps her from buckling down and earning his respect. Finally freed from her need to please Warner, she defeats Warner in a classroom debate ("Chip on My Shoulder"). Elle then helps out Paulette in a way which proves that she is truly beginning to understand law. Elle and Emmett are then notified that Callahan is taking on a murder case, and Emmett gets the chance to be co-counsel. Warner and Vivienne win two of Callahan's coveted internship positions, and Warner proposes to Vivienne on the spot right in front of Elle. Before Elle's heart can break, Emmett shows her the internship list. Below the names of Vivienne, Warner, and classmate Enid Hoopes is the name Elle Woods, at which she is ecstatic ("So Much Better").

Act II

Callahan, Emmett, and the four interns are studying the jump rope workout video of their newest client, fitness mogul Brooke Wyndham ("Whipped into Shape"). Brooke's stepdaughter, Chutney, is accusing Brooke of murdering Brooke's much older husband. Callahan and the interns visit Brooke in jail, but are unable to extract an alibi from her, until she is alone with Elle. Elle recognizes Brooke as a former Delta Nu member ("Delta Nu Nu Nu"). Swearing Elle to secrecy, Brooke reveals her alibi: she was getting liposuction on the day of the murder. Not willing to betray her Delta Nu loyalty, Elle asks Callahan to trust her when she says that Brooke is innocent. Callahan then releases his rage on Emmett. Emmett begs Elle to break her promise. Elle refuses, but then offers to help impress Callahan in a different way by taking Emmett to a department store ("Take It Like a Man"). The results impress both of them.

Back at the Hair Affair, Elle is getting a manicure when in walks the sexy new UPSmarker man, Kyle. Paulette is nothing short of stunned, but she is too shy to talk to him, believing that she has nothing to offer. As she bends down to pick up the package, however, Margot, Serena and Pilar are summoned by Paulette's amazing "Bend and Snap", and the girls are now visible not only to Elle but also to Paulette. The sorority girls tell Paulette to use the "Bend and Snap" on Kyle, but when she does, after he returns to retrieve his stylus, she accidentally breaks his nose ("Bend and Snap").

On the third day of Brooke's trial, Brooke's pool boy, Nikos Argitakos, shocks the court by claiming to have an affair with Brooke. Brooke denies it, and Elle believes her. Elle tries the "Bend and Snap" twice, in front of Nikos and gets no response. She concludes that he is gay, while Callahan believes him to be simply European ("There! Right There!"). The question baffles everyone until it is revealed by Carlos, Nikos' boyfriend, that Nikos is gay and European.

Later that night in Callahan's office, the interns celebrate Elle's skill. However, after dismissing Emmett and the other interns, Callahan forcibly kisses Elle, who slaps him. In turn, Callahan fires her. As a heartbroken Elle is left stunned in the office, Warner and Vivienne, who both saw the kiss, though only Vivienne saw the slap, enter. Warner mocks Elle, but Vivienne tells him to shut up and they both leave. A defeated Elle prepares to go home, even though Emmett asks her to stay, finally realizing that he is in love with her ("Legally Blonde").

Elle heads to the Hair Affair to say goodbye to Paulette, but before she can leave, Vivienne reveals herself from under a hairdryer and convinces Elle otherwise ("Legally Blonde Remix"). Elle discards her lawyerly navy suits, dons a fabulous pink dress and leads a parade back to the courtroom, along the way picking up her parents as well as Margot, Serena and Pilar, who have flown to Boston to see her in person. The last person they pick up is Kyle, who takes a liking to Paulette, and reveals himself to be the Irish man of her dreams. This, of course, prompts a Riverdance amongst the ensemble. Back at the trial, Brooke fires Callahan and hires Elle while Emmett, a licensed lawyer, supervises. Chutney goes to the witness stand and her testimony is damning, but Elle triumphs by revealing Chutney's lie with her knowledge of hair maintenance ("Omigod You Guys (Reprise)"). Chutney accidentally confesses that she was the one who killed her father, believing him to be Brooke, because she hated having a stepmother younger than herself. Elle's victory is so great that Warner proposes to her, having been dumped by Vivienne. Elle gently refuses, claiming to have been changed by the experience ("Find My Way").

Three years later, Elle ends up as the valedictorian of her class. Paulette tells the audience that Enid practices family law, Vivienne is training for the Peace Corps, and Warner quits law school to pursue a modeling career. Callahan ran for governor but was defeated, and his wife hired Emmett to handle their divorce. Paulette married Kyle, had two kids, and is pregnant with a third. They live in Worcester, Massachusettsmarker and Paulette bought a new salon (that she is eager to say, features dog grooming). At the end of the graduation ceremony, Elle proposes to Emmett, and Emmett accepts ("Finale").

Legally Blonde Casts

The principal original casts of the major productions of Legally Blonde.
Character Original Broadway Cast Original US Tour Cast Original London Cast
Elle Woods Laura Bell Bundy Becky Gulsvig Sheridan Smith
Emmett Forrest Christian Borle D.B. Bonds Alex Gaumond
Paulette Bonafonté Orfeh Natalie Joy Johnson Jill Halfpenny
Professor Callahan Michael Rupert Ken Land Peter Davison
Warner Huntington III Richard H. Blake Jeff Mclean Duncan James
Vivienne Kensington Kate Shindle Megan Lewis Caroline Keiff
Grandmaster Chad/Dewey/Kyle Andy Karl Ven Daniel Chris Ellis-Stanton
Brooke Wyndham Nikki Snelson Coleen Sexton Aoife Mulholland
Enid Hoopes Natalie Joy Johnson Gretchen Burghart Suzie McAdam
Serena Leslie Kritzer Cortney Wolfson Susan McFadden
Margot Annaleigh Ashford Rhiannon Hanson Amy Lennox
Pilar DeQuina Moore Crystal Joy Ibinabo Jack
Kate/Chutney Kate Wetherhead Alex Ellis Roxanne Palmer



  • The cast for the MTV airing, filmed in mid-September, 2007 , consisted of the entire original Broadwaymarker cast with the exception of Tracy Jai Edwards taking over for Leslie Kritzer and Asmeret Ghebremichael for DeQuina Moore. Moore departed from the production in July, 2007 and Kritzer in August that same year .


Musical numbers

Act I
  • Omigod You Guys — Elle, Serena, Margot, Pilar, Company
  • Serious — Elle, Warner
  • Daughter of Delta Nu* — Serena, Margot, Pilar, Company
  • What You Want — Elle, Serena, Margot, Pilar, Company
  • The Harvard Variations — Emmett, Aaron, Enid, Padamadan, Harvard Students
  • Blood in the Water — Callahan, Company
  • Positive — Elle, Serena, Margot, Pilar, Greek Chorus
  • Ireland — Paulette
  • Ireland (Reprise) — Paulette
  • Serious (Reprise) — Elle, Warner
  • Chip on My Shoulder — Elle, Emmett, Greek Chorus, Company
  • So Much Better — Elle, Greek Chorus, Company


Act II
  • Whipped Into Shape — Brooke, Callahan, Company
  • Delta Nu Nu Nu* — Brooke, Elle
  • Take It Like a Man — Elle, Emmett, Salespeople
  • Bend and Snap — Elle, Paulette, Serena, Margot, Pilar, and Salonfolk
  • There! Right There! — Elle, Callahan, Emmett, Brooke, Vivienne, Warner, Enid, Judge, Nikos, Carlos, Company
  • Legally Blonde — Elle, Emmett
  • Legally Blonde Remix — Vivienne, Elle, Enid, Company
  • Omigod You Guys (Reprise)* — Elle, Judge, Serena, Margot, Pilar and Company
  • Find My Way/Finale — Elle, Paulette, Emmett, Company


During its San Francisco run, the musical included a song called "Love and War" in place of what is now "Positive." The song featured, at times, very similar lyrics and choreography to that of the current version, though with a different melody and harmonic structure. Another predecessor to "Positive" was "Beacon of Positivity," which had the same general idea behind it, but lacked a dance break.

Where Paulette's song "Ireland" is now, there was originally a song entitled "Good Boy", in which Paulette and Elle bond over the idea that men are like dogs and should therefore be treated as such.

Other cut songs include two sung by Professor Callahan: one entitled "Rock Star", in which he tells Elle about his first job (as the legal representative of a rock star); and one entitled "Name Your Price", in which he dispenses career advice to Elle. Both of these songs were used (in different versions of the show) in the moment before Callahan kisses Elle, but in the final version of the musical, no song exists there.

* Not featured on Original Broadway Cast Recording

The Londonmarker cast released a music video of 'So Much Better'. It can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMcdWuzEKjMView the 'Behind the scenes' video on the west end music video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8acRBTUwVAand watch the legally blonde medley that the west edn cast performed on children in need here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkxVgPSUlAM&feature=related

Recordings

The Original Broadway Cast recording was recorded on May 7 and 8, 2007 and released on July 17, 2007 by Ghostlight Records (an imprint of Sh-K-Boom Records). During the week of July 23, 2007, the cast album made its debut on Billboard's Cast Album chart, placing at #1 and charted at #86 on the Billboard 200. The album sold 93,000+ copies as of May 2008.

Prior to opening for previews, a promotional sampler CD was released featuring "Omigod You Guys", "So Much Better", and "Take It Like a Man", featuring a slightly divergent cast, arrangement and lyrics of that of the final show's. These songs were all re-recorded for the cast recording.

During the development phase of the musical, a demo recording was released with twelve songs featuring Kerry Butler and others as Elle. The demo featured the original versions of "There! Right There!" (originally called "Gay or European"), "Blood in the Water", "Omigod You Guys", "Serious", "What You Want", "Legally Blonde", "Legally Blonde Remix", "So Much Better", "Take It Like a Man", and also featured two songs that are not present in the final show. These included "Beacon of Positivity" which would later become "Love and War" and eventually "Positive", and "Good Boy", a song in the place of "Ireland".

Bailey Hanks, who won the reality show The Search For Elle Woods, recorded the song "So Much Better", which was released as a single on July 22, 2008.

In 2009 Sheridan Smith who is to potray Elle in London recorded a pop video of "So Much Better" with various members of the cast.

Critical response

The musical received mixed reviews but many praised the show for being a fun and upbeat production. Ben Brantley, reviewing the musical in The New York Times, wrote that the show was "high-energy, empty-calories, and expensive-looking hymn to the glories of girlishness..."; he praised Laura Bell Bundy: "she sings and dances flawlessly, and she delivers silly lines as if she meant them."

Clive Barnes, in his New York Post review, wrote that he loved the "effervescent and radiant Bundy..." as well as others in the cast, and that the "dances certainly have a slick snap, crackle, and pop..."

Elysa Gardner in the USA Today wrote that the musical was an "ingratiating trifle", and the "...game cast ensure that the proceedings, however patronizing, aren't irritating."

Whilst referring to the TV show Legally Blonde - The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods respected UK television critic Patrice Savage wrote in the Brent Musical Review "What kind of society are we living in where young females look up to this character as a role model when there are so many non-fictional women leading outstanding lives who go unrecognised".

Jeremy McCarter in New York Magazine wrote that the musical unfortunately "doesn’t summon memories of Tracy Flick, the steely student-council campaigner that Reese Witherspoon played in Election before starring in Legally Blonde. The fleeting glimpses of a Flickish manic drive just below Elle’s silly Malibu surface are what I liked best in the film. It’s the kind of freaky detail that no amount of cheery blandness can replace."

Awards and nominations

Tony Awards
  • Best Book of a Musical: Heather Hach (nomination)
  • Best Original Score: Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin (nomination)
  • Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical: Laura Bell Bundy (nomination)
  • Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical: Christian Borle (nomination)
  • Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical: Orfeh (nomination)
  • Best Choreography: Jerry Mitchell (nomination)
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical: Gregg Barnes (nomination)
Drama Desk Awards
  • Outstanding Musical (nomination)
  • Outstanding Book of a Musical: Heather Hach (nomination)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Musical: Laura Bell Bundy (nomination)
  • Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical: Christian Borle (nomination)
  • Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical: Orfeh (nomination)
  • Outstanding Choreography: Jerry Mitchell (nomination)
  • Outstanding Director of a Musical: Jerry Mitchell (nomination)
  • Outstanding Lyrics: Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin (nomination)
  • Outstanding Music: Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin (nomination)
  • Outstanding Set Design of a Musical: David Rockwell (nomination)
Outer Critics Circle Awards
  • Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Orfeh (nomination)
Drama League Award
  • Distinguished Production of a Musical (nomination)
  • Distinguished Performance: Christian Borle (nomination)
  • Distinguished Performance: Laura Bell Bundy (nomination)
Actors' Equity Association's Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs
  • Outstanding Broadway Chorus (win)
Daytime Emmy Award (for the MTV airing)
  • Outstanding Special Class Direction (nomination)
  • Outstanding Special Class Special (nomination)
Helen Hayes Awards
  • Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actress in a Non-Resident Production: Becky Gulsvig (nomination)
The Broadway League: Touring Broadway Awards
  • Best New Touring Musical (win)
  • Best Design of a Touring Production (win)
  • Best Choreography of a Touring Production (win)


References

External links




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