Following in the footsteps of last year's successful Broadway musical reality show, You're the One That I Want on NBC, and their own broadcast of Legally Blonde: The Musical, MTV has announced plans to produce a new reality show during which a new Elle Woods will be selected. Laura Bell Bundy, the original Elle (nominated for a 2007 Tony for her performance) will be leaving the show this summer.
Last winter, NBC tried a similar experiment with You're the One That I Want: viewers had the opportunity to vote for the next actors to play Sandy and Danny in a new revival of Grease. Although the television show was a moderate success, the Broadway production was panned by many critics (but not all). A similar show, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, to cast the lead in a West End production of The Sound of Music aired in Britain, with more success on stage.
The buzz among Broadway bloggers about this type of show tends towards the negative. May feel that allowing television viewers to vote on the performers "corrupts the art form." Personally, I think the term "art form" might be a bit of an overstatement for something that involves so many sequins. These TV shows are all in good fun, and in the end they provide great exposure for musicals. I erroneously stated in an earlier version of this post that Grease has closed on Broadway. On the contrary, it is still playing to packed houses. (My bad, folks. It's awfully embarassing for a librarian to be caught with shoddy research!) Grease is a popular show and there will always be a big audience for a revival, but I have to think that the television series helped to make the production a commercial success.
The girl cast as Elle Woods has a more exciting opportunity than the previous Broadway-related reality shows because unlike the other shows, she will be joining a production that has already been running successfully for over a year. Since many of the other actors have extended their contracts longer than Bundy, she will get to work with members of the original cast.
No official title or air date have been announced yet, but casting began on January 21. Laura Bell Bundy will finish up her run in July. I am guessing MTV will want to have the winner announced before it is time for her to step in for Bundy, and the casting call specifies that participants be available mid-February through mid-March, so I think we can expect the show to air in the spring.
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Amy Kane spends as much quality time with her television as possible, when she's not busy at her day job as a cube dweller.