With The Hills off the air until August, MTV was left to find something to fill this temporary void. They needed something girly. Something superficial. Something that could only last one season. Enter Legally Blonde The Musical: The Search For Elle Woods. Contestants show off their singing, dancing and acting skills to win the grand prize: the leading role in Legally Blonde on Broadway.
The first time I watched Legally Blonde was on a particularly depressing night after I’d first moved to Los Angeles. I was alone in an apartment I was borrowing from a friend’s sister. I had no prospective roommates, no prospective jobs, no prospective friends. The situation was grim and so I decided the only solution would be to spend a Friday night eating pizza and watching TV. Then Legally Blonde came on and I watched the entire thing.
It would be a better (nicer) story if I concluded with something like, “And that movie really lifted my spirits” or “Elle Woods was an inspiration. She reminded me that I can do anything!”
But no. That was the end of the story. It just happened to be on TV.
And so because of that experience I will forever associated Legally Blonde with giving up. With giving up and eating an entire pizza.
But apparently the folks at MTV and the producers of Legally Blonde: The Musical share this feeling. This “givingupness,” if you will. I say this because, first of all, these Broadway producers have decided to hold open auditions to find their new star. Other types of shows that hold open auditions: Home makeover shows, wedding planning shows.
The second indication of givingupness is the casting of Haylie Duff (the lesser Duff) as host and mentor to the girls aspiring to be the next Elle Woods.
DON’T MENTION MY SISTER
Yeah, I know, I couldn’t remember anything from Haylie’s resume other than that movie she and the sis did about the heiresses to a cosmetic fortune and her role as Summer in Napoleon Dynamite.
But apparently she’s starred in Hairspray on Broadway and so is therefore qualified to play mentor to a bunch of hopefuls trying out for a different musical based on a movie.
Okay, so maybe she has stepped out of Hilary’s shadow, but I still think this show could’ve gotten an even better Duff.
We begin the show by traveling into Haylie’s lair, henceforth known as the Haylair. Get familiar with this place, because we’ll be here a lot.
UNCOMFORTABLE WITH HUMAN INTERACTION
Haylie explains how being on Broadway is THE BEST thing EVER. And so she can see why so many young women dream of growing up to be just like her (just humor her for a minute).
Then we move on to the competish. The nationwide search resulted in 50 contestants who traveled to NYC (the Big City!) to take a chance on their dreams, get suckered into buying a knock-off purse, and take pictures of themselves in front of the Legally Blonde marque on Broadway.
And here they are, crammed onto one stage, performing the classic “Bend and Snap” dance number from the musical.
AND A LITTLE BIT A THIS AND A LITTLE BIT A THAT AND SHAKE YOUR BUTT
The man to impress is Jerry Mitchell, the director and choreographer of Legally Blonde The Musical.
HMM, NO, YOU’RE ALL MEDIOCRE.
I don’t know much about this guy, but he’s apparently “legendary,” so says Duff. As does one of the contestants, Cassie S., who calls him not just legendary but a “legendary director, choreographer, triple threat. He’s like God.”
I JUST WANT TO GAG HIM AND KEEP HIM IN MY BEDROOM CLOSET, YOU KNOW?
The term “triple threat” is thrown around a lot (A LOT) on this show, so I wanted to take a moment to make sure we’re all clear on what exactly that means. I think it refers to a person who can dance, act and sing. But I’m dumb and also I despise musical theater, so I could be wrong.
After a montage of the girls dancing their little hearts out, set to Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” (the song from Napoleon Dynamite–you can’t escape your past, Duff), we narrow it down to just 15 girls. A much more manageable number.
YOU IN THE MIDDLE, QUIT HOPPING UP AND DOWN
And the girls couldn’t be more delighted. Take Cassie O., for instance. Who feels like “a 6 year old who just got a pony for her birthday.” I don’t know, I can’t relate to that precise emotion, but I guess she means she’s excited. Well, good for you.
I FEEL LIKE A PRINCESS WITH A NEW RIBBON FOR THE MAYPOLE. I FEEL LIKE A SEA CAPTAIN WITH A SHINEY NEW COMPASS.
Oh the show’s two Cassies, I like Cassie O. Her name reminds me of a Casio keyboard I used to have.
AH, RAPMAN. HOW WERE YOU SO AWESOME?!
Then there is tough, sturdy Emma, who gives us a more muted excitement. But make no mistake, she’s been dreaming of being a Broadway star since she was a little girl. Actually, she says ever since she was “in utero.” (Ew.) After all, her parents were both in the original production of Grease. Which means that Emma’s mom found the one straight guy on Broadway.
I DESERVE THIS
Emma, Emma, Emma. Hasn’t anyone ever told you about nepotism? Seems like you’re wasting your time here.
Likeable and uberperky contestant Rhiannon says it’s always been her dream to be Elle Woods because “Legally Blonde is my favorite.” Aww.
BEATING YOU SKANKS IN THIS COMPETITION IS MY OTHER FAVORITE!
Now the girls meet their mentor, Duff, for the first time. I get the sense that they were like, “Seriously?”
LADIES, BASK IN MY GLORY.
So she gets on stage and delivers the most scripted introduction ever. Really, I don’t think Duff ever says anything natural during this entire show. No Duff off the cuff.
She warns the ladies not to get too comfortable because 5 more of them are being sent home.
OH EFF ME…
Before they can send more girls home, they need to test out their singing abilities. “But don’t worry, the people you’re working with are the same ones who trained me for my Broadway debut.” Oh, gee, now they feel so much better, Duff.
And speaking of so much better, I think that’s the name of the song they’ll be rehearsing today. It’s a power ballad, but not the 80′s hair band, arena rock kind. This kind is dumb. It’s the song Elle Woods performs when she’s had enough of being told she’s not good enough for Harvard.
They meet their vocal coach, Seth, who is just delightful. And then Duff’s like, “Okay, peace.” And just walks out and heads back to the Haylair. What a fantastic mentor, eh folks?
I NEED TO GO PUT ON SOME MORE MAKEUP. CIAO!
Free from the Duffster, the girls gather round the old piano and learn a song from Seth. I continue to love this guy because he says amazing like “amahhzing.”
I ALSO SAY FAHHHBULOUS
We work our way through the song, the contestants reading the lyrics from (oh how clever) pink pieces of paper. We also meet Rachel, one of the few brunettes in the running. (By the by, do you think they’d actually dye their hair if they got the role as Elle? Or just wear a wig?)
Rachel tells us that she’d rate her singing as a 10. I admire her confidence, but as supporting evidence to her statement she says she first performed when she was 3 years old on the steps of her church.
AND I HAVEN’T DONE A DAMN THING SINCE
Wow, big deal. I have a feeling that debut didn’t play out quite the way she remembered it. And it was probably more like she was on her way into church when she wrestled free from her mother’s grasp and began belting out a song from The Little Mermaid while people looked on, some saying, “how cute,” and others shaking their heads in dismay at her disobedience.
Then there’s Natalie, who comes from a long line of performers. “Some people are plumbers and you go into the family business. We’re all actors so I’m in the family business.”
AND IF I FAIL, THEN I GUESS I’LL JUST GO INTO PLUMBING.
Little Casio tells us, “I like to sing. I love the sound of my voice. I love the noise that came out of my mouth.” Yeah, well I love the sounds that came out of my rapman, but that didn’t stop me from selling it in a yardsale.
I LOVE THE FEELING OF AIR COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH.
Now take off your shoes and put on your protective smocks, we’re going back to the Haylair and she doesn’t want you bringing in germs. Duff informs us that the girls will now go on to learn some new choreography. “When I was preparing for my Broadway debut, learning dance moves was the hardest part.”
NOW WOULD YOU PLEASE RELAY THAT MESSAGE TO THE CONTESTANTS FOR ME? THANKS.
They meet with the assistant choreographer to learn the new steps.
DON’T COME ANY CLOSER, I DON’T WANT YOUR AMATEUR RUBBING OFF ON ME.
Even though they’ve already had a long day, the girls are still just as pleased as punch to be learning new dance steps. Cassie S. feels that she is a really triple threat (enough already) and that she is just, “Awesome blossom fabulous fantastic.”
WEARING RIBBON FROM RECENT BIRTHDAY PRESENT
Awesome blossom. Isn’t that another name for those Blooming Onion thingies?
You feel like that thing? Because those things make me feel like taking a big nap and then crying about being a fatass.
Also feeling just SUPER! is Bailey. Besides having an annoying name and an annoying southern accent, Bailey also says really annoying things. “I’m from a small town. I’ve never been to New York before. Never even been on a plane!” Oh God.
I ROAD TO SCHOOL ON A TRACTOR AND I SEW ALL OF MY OWN CLOTHES!
Now it’s time to meet the judges. The girls all head back to the stage, where Duff, having just woken up from a relaxing nap, joins them. “I hope rehearsal went well,” she says. Well maybe you should’ve been there to see for yourself.
DID I MENTION I’M FAMOUS?
Then we meet the judges.
On the left is Bernie, a casting director. The unfun looking one in the middle is Heather, writer of Legally Blonde The Musical. And on the end there is, you guessed it, an actor! It’s Paul, who a cast member in LB.
Back in the Haylair, Duff gives some more terrific advice. “You have to stand out from all of the other girls who are auditioning.”
To get a better look at the girls as they dancey dance, they break up into small groups. Here we learn that being a good dancer means making silly faces. And these girls sure do pull a lot of ridiculous ones…
As the girls bop along in their groups, it’s clear the judges are less than impressed. “They keep getting worse as we go along.”
MAYBE WE SHOULD JUST CAST DUFF. SHE IS A TRIPLE THREAT, AFTER ALL.
During this disaster of a dance-off, we meet Celina. She isn’t particularly Elle Woodsy, and she acts a little whacky. She tells us, “In high school they used to call me Trouble because I made out with everyone.” I like her already!
I PLAN TO MAKE OUT WITH THE JUDGES TOO!
After the judges have lost faith in everyone, it’s time for the contestants to sing the number they rehearsed earlier in the day. Let’s hope they wow them this time.
First up is peppy, perky, punchy Rhiannon.
I LOVE ELLE WOODS THIS MUCH!
Paul, the actor judge, thought she was adorable. No one can deny that. But do you want to deal with that much adorableness every. Single. Day?
From there, we sit through a lot of loud, long final notes to the song. I am so much better….than BEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE!
Seriously, I kept typing O’s while listening to that final note of the song.
Needless to say, this chapter of the show was a big headache.
Finally, the contestants have reached the end of the day. They are tired. They are beating themselves up over mistakes made. And they still have to suffer through eliminations. Sucks to be you.
JUST LEAVE ME HERE TO DIE.
These girls could really use some words of encouragement from their mentor. Where’s Duff? Anyone seen Duff? No? Of course not.
Well, off to the gallows it is, girlies.
MAYBE I SHOULDN’T HAVE DROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE FOR THIS.
Here’s the thing, at this point we are totally not attached to any of the contestants. We haven’t had a chance to get to know any of them. What we do know is that Celina is awesome and Bailey is obnoxious. So when I tell you who gets sent home, don’t be surprised if you don’t care.
The rejects are:
AW, DON’T WORRY, YOU’RE STILL CUTE N ALL.
SAW THAT COMING, SORRY.
LOOKS LIKE YOU PEAKED AT 3 YEARS OLD
The 10 remaining contestants are happy, but exhausted. Oh well, no time for sleep because now you all need to pile into a limo for a tour of New York.
Hey small town girls, here’s where you all squeal, “Oh my gosh! I’ve never been in a real limo before!”
They drive to the theatre where Legally Blonde currently plays. The mere sight of it just has them all kinds of bubbly with excitement.
THERE’S GUM ON THE SIDEWALK! AND NOTHING IS HAPPENING! AND NO ONE IS AROUND! WOWWWEEE!
But wait, there’s more…Laura Bell Bundy, the current Elle Woods, is there to greet them.
I know, I was wondering where she was this whole time. I mean, she’s being replaced here, so what if something terrible happened? But she’s fine.
JUST A LITTLE BITTER, BUT I’LL LIVE
So, Laura, Duff has been a real lousy mentor thus far. Perhaps you can give them some words of wisdom.
“If you think you’re tired now, wait until you’re on Broadway.”
Wow. Swell. Thanks.