Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Broadway And Reality Television

One of the biggest hit's of the 2000's, was Legally Blonde, starring future Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon. Now as much as I loved the movie, I wasn't thinking, "Wouldn't this make a great Broadway musical someday?" Turns out I was wrong, because less than six years later, there it was  larger than life on the big stage. The show, which starred Laura Bell Bundy in the title role, and directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell, was nominated for seven 2007 Tony Awards, including Best Book and Score, and Best Actress in a Musical.

It also aired on MTV in November of that year, beginning a relationship with the cable music channel that would continue in 2008, with a new reality show, Legally Blonde - The Search for Elle Woods. Premiering on June 2, 2008, the eight episode series featured fifteen female finalists vying for the role of a lifetime. In the end, twenty year old Bailey Hanks from South Carolina was selected as the winner. She debuted on July 23, 2008, and performed with the show until it closed on October 19 of that year. Now believe it or not, but Legally Blonde was not the first show to use reality television to find it's star. 

The 2007 revival of Grease,  began the trend with Grease: You're The One That I Want, where they allowed America to choose Broadway's Danny and Sandy. Winning the contest were Max Crumm and Laura Osnes, who has since become one of Broadway's most acclaimed leading ladies, starring in six Broadway shows, and receiving Tony Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical, for her performances in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and Bonnie and Clyde. Now despite the show not being a ratings success, it did give the show a hefty advance at the box office. 

Since then, there have been several more shows produced in the hopes of finding it's leading man or leading lady. Any Dream Will Do (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), I'd Do Anything (Oliver!), and Over The Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz). All great choices. Now what get's me, is that no other Broadway shows have used this device since Legally Blonde. Who knows? This might just be the thing that Broadway needs to create a little buzz when it comes back. Stay safe everyone, and keep looking out for each other. Until next time theatre fans.

Applause Theatre and Entertainment Service, Inc.
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