Elle's A-Poppin': Legally Blonde Musical Gets NYC Workshop Prior to Broadway

News   Elle's A-Poppin': Legally Blonde Musical Gets NYC Workshop Prior to Broadway A Manhattan workshop of the new Broadway-bound Legally Blonde — The Musical is planned for May, Playbill.com has learned.

As previously announced, Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell (La Cage aux Folles, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hairspray) will make his Broadway debut as a "hyphenate" — as in director-choreographer — with the property.

The musical is based on the hit 2001 film comedy about a pampered, cosmetics-minded Bel Air woman named Elle, who chases her ex-beau to Harvard's law school and finds herself excelling in academia.

The spring workshop rehearsals will lead to private, staged workshop presentations May 19-20. A staged reading of the full show (minus movement) was held Dec. 12-13, 2005.

No principal casting has been announced, nor have Broadway dates, but a 2007 Broadway bow is expected.

Being sought for the workshop are young performers — "strong, athletic theatre dancers who sing well…Abercrombie & Fitch fraternity and sorority types," according to a casting notice. Legally Blonde — The Musical is being written by composer Laurence O'Keefe, lyricist Nell Benjamin and librettist Heather Hach.

Producers MGM On Stage, Hal Luftig, Fox Theatricals and Dori Berinstein announced the creative team June 10, 2004.

As previously reported, the project is based on the hit MGM movie and the novel by Amanda Brown.

Songwriters O'Keefe and Benjamin are married and have collaborated on Mice, one act of the trio of musicals known as 3hree. They also wrote a well-reviewed musical version of the beloved book, "Sarah, Plain and Tall," seen Off-Broadway. The writers have each won Ed Kleban Awards for their work. O'Keefe's highest-profile show is Off-Broadway's Bat Boy, which has winged its way into regional theatres. It also played London.

Hach wrote the screenplay for the 2003 feature, "Freaky Friday." A former comedian and journalist, Hach won a 1999 Disney Fellowship for Screenwriting, and has written for television's "Caroline in the City" and "Dilbert." She worked on "The Governor's Wife" for Mandeville Films, and adapting the Kate Christensen book, "In the Drink."

Mitchell received Tony Award nominations for his choreography for The Full Monty, Never Gonna Dance, Hairspray and Dirty Rotten Scoundels, and won the 2005 Tony for his choreography of La Cage aux Folles.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the musical, was another MGM On Stage project.

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Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods, "Bel Air's favorite pink-clad blonde, and her equally stylish Chihuahua, Bruiser," according to the earlier announcement. "After Elle's boyfriend dumps her at graduation, she gets accepted into Harvard Law School to win him back, then discovers that she has far more legal savvy than she ever imagined."

"'Legally Blonde' has the makings of a great musical: a fun plot, strong characters and a truth that everyone can relate to," said Luftig, in a statement. "We're confident our incredibly talented creative team will infuse the story with terrific music, a smart and sassy book and inspired direction and choreography. We are grateful to MGM On Stage president Darcie Denkert and executive managing director Dean Stolber for the opportunity to bring one of MGM's crown jewels alive."

The 2001 movie made actress Reese Witherspoon a major Hollywood actress. She would go on to produce a 2003 sequel, in which her character tried to make an impact on the cold Washington, DC, political community.

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O'Keefe won the 2001 ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizon Award and the 2001 Jonathan Larson Foundation Award. Benjamin also received a 2003 Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Grant.

Luftig, Fox Theatricals and Berinstein previously collaborated on Thoroughly Modern Millie, which won 2002 six Tony Awards in 2002 including Best Musical. Luftig's other credits include Movin' Out, the current off-Broadway production of The Normal Heart, Annie Get Your Gun, Angels in America, and the 1998 revival of The King and I.

Fox Theatricals is a producer of Broadway's Caroline, or Change. Other credits include Broadway's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Death of a Salesman.

Berinstein has produced widely in theatre, film and television, working with Fox Theatricals in producing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Other credits include Tony winner Fool Moon, and 30 films, including "Dirty Dancing" and " Unzipped." She produced a documentary on the 2003-2004 Broadway season titled "Broadway: The Film."