Broadway Features and Reviews
Broadway's Legally Blonde MTV Search
By Edith Haight, Broadway Magazine
The newest summer show from MTV offers something old and something new, something borrowed, and something pink. The program is "Legally Blonde The Musical: The Search For Elle Woods" and it combines the reality show savvy of MTV with the drama of a Broadway casting session. Like American Idol, the breeding ground for many of Broadway's new marquee names, this program gives contestants the opportunity to audition for a Broadway lead and at the end of the program one of the possible Elles is eliminated. The show even lifts the "I'm Going Home" song, popularized in a previous season of American Idol.
Public casting sessions, or more appropriately, publicity casting sessions have been all the rage in the UK. Last season, America got in on the act. The two leads for the current Broadway revival of "Grease" were hand picked from the votes of thousands of millions of hundreds of viewers of "Grease: You're The One That I Want" last season on ABC. The result of that televised process was not ideal, but it did sell tickets."Grease" remains popular both as a title and as a production. Last night on the show Cassie O was told that they "just don't see you as the next Elle Woods." This information causes tears (not of joy) and as an audience we get an instant window into the heartbreak and drama that is part of casting a Broadway show.
Although the actors may not all be real Broadway material, the requisite three judges have true Broadway and "Blonde" roots. Between the casting director, writer, and actor from the production, one gets a raw look at the unspectacular reality of a Broadway audition process. There is an authenticity to this program that replaces the glitz of other talent competitions with the grit of the actor's life in New York City.The setting is real even if the actresses auditioning lean towards artifice. In fact, if we believe the premise of the reality show, there will be a very real outcome to this promotional arrangement. Inherent in the process is that Laura Bell Bundy will be replaced by one of the auditioners. The irony of that fact is sadly rich. While the show's visibility could help sell tickets, it necessitates the removal of the very heart of the production. Cutting off one's nose to spite one's face, they say. Still, it's great television even if it isn't great Broadway.