NEW YORK — “Father, it’s been 27 years since my last confession …” says a “Legally Blonde: The Musical” castmember in a small enclosed room.
“… I kill small children for a living …,” says another castmember, continuing the thought.
“This is too much, all these people on the mics,” a third castmember says. “Everyone’s being too much of a ham.”
“Boy, this is just a disaster in the making,” laughs the production’s male lead, Christian Borle. Then he adds more seriously, in regards to his headphones: “Can I get more of me in my cans?”
Before a run-through of the show number “Take It Like a Man,” castmembers are testing their mics and stand-up routines — not to mention each other’s patience. Part of transforming “Legally Blonde” the movie into “Legally Blonde” the musical means recording the requisite cast album (see ” ’Legally Blonde’ On Broadway: A Star Is Born, By Kurt Loder” ). But it’s a nice summery day outside and not everyone wants to be cooped up in a Chelsea recording studio, so jokes, dancing and random silliness ensue.
And no one is being sillier than Laura Bell Bundy, who plays the heroine Elle Woods and alternates trying out her most unpleasant burps in between disco moves with Richard H. Blake, who plays Elle’s ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III. Like her character, Bundy is equal parts sharp and sunny, so she has no problem easing in and out of character as soon as they’re ready for her to sing during the session.
“There are certain characteristics about Elle Woods, an enthusiasm, a naiveté, a vulnerability and this spirit for life, that makes her so natural for me,” Bundy said. “Her world is just so bright and colorful — and the movie was so big and colorful — that it really lends itself to breaking out in song and dance.”
Fans of the original movie can probably already predict which moments become songs — and if they bet on the bend and snap, they gambled right: there’s actually a song called “Bend and Snap.” “It’s so obviously a number,” says Kate Shindle, who plays Warner’s replacement girlfriend, Vivienne. “I think that’s an example that the musical has used really well. It’s not just an isolated thing that happens once and never comes back again. It’s not a novelty, but actually comes in handy for Elle as she’s trying to complete her journey.” Especially when, say, Elle needs to determine whether a certain witness for the prosecution is gay or not.
“I think fans of the movie are going to be very surprised how the creators of the show have decided to weave music into it,” said Borle, who plays Elle’s love interest, Emmett, “because they’ve chosen very smart, unconventional times and ways to do it.”
For instance, Elle’s sorority sisters become her Greek chorus — get it? “Traditionally in theater, the reason for a Greek chorus is to explain the action and forward it,” says Annaleigh Ashford, who plays Margot. “And that’s what we do, in a very modern, fabulous, girl-power way.”
Similarly, Elle’s beautician friend Paulette gets amped up, so she gets a few numbers as well. “There was no way to do Jennifer Coolidge light, you know what I mean?” says Orfeh, who plays Paulette. “So I had to basically start from scratch and create Paulette for the stage as if she had never existed onscreen. So now she has a bigger story line and more camp value, because we’ve wrapped her up in a tidy neat bow. And that bow is called Kyle.”
As in Kyle the UPS man. “I get an intro of porn-esque music,” says Andy Karl, who plays Kyle. (You won’t, however, find that music on the original cast album, which came out this week.) “I think that’s a good development. It works, it suffices. People applaud. They have a good time.”
“See, so if you go see ’Legally Blonde,’ you’ll be entertained,” Bundy says. “And you might be touched. Ay-oooh!”
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