What the Elle? Bailey conquers `Blonde’

The three remaining girls (from left), Bailey, Autumn, Rhiannon, face the judges one last time. B’bye Rhiannon. Photos courtesy of MTV.

Well let’s just be thankful it’s over.

MTV’s reality show “Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods” began seven weeks ago with 50 girls and, as the voiceover told us, “the most intense audition in theater history.”

A bunch of pink outfits and a WHOLE lot of simpering and whimpering later, we have our winner, and may I just say, I totally called this one.

After last week’s mega-challenge in which the remaining three girls had to show off their triple-threatedness, we were promised an early elimination, and sure enough, spunky Rhiannon was ousted for being, well, too darn spunky (and for not having a good enough voice).You’d think girls named after Fleetwood Mac songs would go farther in this world.

That left Autumn and Bailey to duke it out on the stage of the Palace Theatre performing three numbers – “Oh My God You Guys,” “Positive” and “So Much Better” — with the Legally Blonde set, orchestra and cast members. And here’s the twist – they had to rehearse all three numbers in a day.

And just to give them an extra, added little zing, the girls’ parents and, in Bailey’s case, lookalike siblings, were flown in and put in the audience where the cameras could watch them writhing in agony as the girls performed competitively.

The usual judging panel – casting agent Bernie Telsey, Blonde co-writer Heather Hach and cast member Paul Canaan (is he REALLY the “toast of Broadway” as hostess Haylie Duff proclaimed?) – was augmented, mercifully, by Blonde director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, a man with more than a lick of sense, who would ultimately make the final choice.

I loved it when Mitchell told Bailey she was a victim of “shmacting,” meaning she overplayed out to the audience too much.

We saw healthy chunks of both girls’ performances intercut with subtitled comments from the judging panel. It was clear from their girlish giddiness that the judges were loving Bailey and merely admiring Autumn for her beautiful voice. Autumn seems to admire her every asset enough for everyone, so it all balances out in the end.

[SPOILER ALERT] And of course the winner was South Carolina’s own Bailey Hanks, 20. The reveal was anticlimactic and dumb. Then Bailey had to perform “So Much Better” again with the surprise twist that all the previous contestants were her back-up sorority girls. Though we hardly had a moment to take in the reunion as the credits started to roll.

Bailey begins performances at the Palace Wednesday, July 23. I’d go see her if I could out of sheer curiosity and to see if she has the stamina for an entire show. Visit www.legallyblondethemusical.com for information.

Ghostlight is going to release Bailey’s single version of “So Much Better,” the first act closer, on iTunes beginning today (July 22).

And here’s more news: reality shows come in handy when re-casting for a tour or filling in slots on a long-running Broadway show. According to Playbill.com, “finalists Autumn Hurlbert, Rhiannon Hansen and Lauren Zakrin have all been cast in either the Broadway production or the first national tour of the musical, which launches in Providence, RI, Sept. 23…Hurlbert, the first runner-up in the competition, will understudy the role of Elle Woods on Broadway and will perform in the ensemble. Zakrin, the youngest contestant on the reality show, will understudy the tour’s Elle Woods, Becky Gulsvig, and will also be a member of the ensemble. And, Hansen will play the role of Margot, Elle’s best friend, on tour.”

Now one last visit with the brilliant vocal coach Seth Rudetsky, who should have a reality show all his own. Brava, Seth.

3 thoughts on “What the Elle? Bailey conquers `Blonde’

  1. And who was the first person to say “Bailey FTW” in this very comments section? Hmmmm??

    A few notes. I think we all knew going in tonight that it was Bailey (thanks, in part, to MTV’s lousy spoiler police), but here’s what’s fascinating to me: Bailey got the total Mean Girl loser’s edit. Autumn got the Legend In Her Own Mind/”I’ve Worked So Hard” winner’s edit. And it sure seems like, going from the material, that it wouldn’t have been THAT difficult to tweak those. At least give Bailey a last-minute redemption arc. I never thought I would say this, but where’s Tyra when you need her? Also, why didn’t they follow up with Autumn for a few seconds, or at least tell her that she gets to understudy?

    Jerry Mitchell, it is not “schmacting” — it’s “schacting,” as in Shatnerian Acting. This is a widely-accepted term!

    Paul Canaan, “It’s a HIT” is never going to happen. Stop trying to MAKE IT HAPPEN! You are so not fetch!

    Seth definitely deserves his own show.

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  3. Hi guys!! Seth Rudetsky, Seth Rudetsky has a fantastic book available for audio download from
    http://www.audible.com/logo. Broadway Nights is a hilarious look at the
    true Broadway life. The audio version even features other great Broadway
    stars like Kristin Chenoweth and Jonathan Groff among others! Check it out!!

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