In what could be the professional break of a lifetime, Laura Bell Bundy (Kristin Chenoweth's replacement in "Wicked") takes on the role of beloved, overachieving blond fashionista, Elle Woods, president of Delta Nu sorority, Hawaiian Tropic girl and Harvard Law School student.
"Legally Blonde" also marks the Broadway directorial debut of Tony Award-winning choreographer Jerry Mitchell ("La Cage Aux Folles"). In 1990, Mitchell staged the first "Broadway Bares," the first in an annual series of burlesque shows, featuring Broadway's most daring "gypsies," an animated aggregation of chorus boys and girls devoted to shedding their clothes to raise money for the theatrical charity, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
That Mitchell's witty, high-voltage endeavor has thus far raised $3.5 million for the organization has made him a beloved Broadway figure, explaining why the theatrical community is rooting for the success of his show.
"Legally Blonde" is not the only example of the screen-to-stage genre currently on display across the United States.
British choreographer Matthew Bourne's dance adaptation of "Edward Scissorhands," Tim Burton's film fable about the fragile, sweet boy android with shiny scissor blades for hands, is in the midst of a 12-city, six-month American tour, ending May 30, and "Sister Act: The Musical," a disco-soul stage version of the Whoopi Goldberg motion picture hit, has taken over the stage of the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dawnn Lewis ("A Different World") stars as down-and-out singer Deloris Van Cartier who avoids a mob execution by hiding out in a convent disguised as Sister Mary Clarence.
The show has "the potential to be a huge hit," writes a local critic, contingent on "additional changes."
Meanwhile, London's West End is playing host to "Billy Elliot," recipient of four 2006 Laurence Olivier awards (the equivalent of America's Tony awards), including Best New Musical, and the Australian import, "Dirty Dancing -- The Classic Story on Stage," which opened in London in October 2006 with an advance sale of $20 plus million, the largest in West End history.
Sir Elton John composed the score for "Billy Elliot," based on Stephen Daldry's 2000 motion picture of the same name about an 11-year-old coal miner's son who forsakes boxing class for ballet lessons during the British Miners' Strike of 1984 and ends up starring in "Swan Lake" at Covent Garden.
The musical "deepens and thrillingly gives the story the kind of vibrant immediacy that you can only get in the theater," observed one British reviewer.
An American edition is scheduled to take over the (currently vacant and hit hungry) stage of Broadway's Imperial Theatre in summer 2008. Refusing to quarrel with a good thing, "Dirty Dancing -- The Classic Story on Stage," offers a straightforward frame-by-frame re-creation of the incredibly popular 1987 female coming-of-age film against a digitally animated backdrop.
Frequently characterized as "'Star Wars' for girls," the show once again plows through the adventures of idealistic, college-bound ugly duckling, Baby Houseman, and her transformation into a sexy young woman under the tutelage of summer resort dance instructor Johnny Castle.
Despite the apparent tackiness of the venture, patrons seem to love it, qualifying "Dirty Dancing" as an authentic "guilty pleasure."
A Toronto edition is scheduled for Oct. 31.