deltanudaughter: (Woods Comma Elle)
[personal profile] deltanudaughter
It's really hard for me to imagine this decade without Legally Blonde. It's one of my favorite movies and it soon became one of my favorite musicals. Though, I'm sure that everyone isn't so familiar with the source material in it's various forms, so here's a short primer on the awesome that is Legally Blonde.


Books


To be honest, I haven't read the book yet, but I'll just mentions what I know about it. The book was based around author Amanda Brown's experiences while attending Stanford Law School. I can't seem to find an exact date of when the book was published, but I have a summary of the book from Amazon.

Elle Wood, University of Southern California sorority president and sociopolitical jewelry design major, is blonde, spoiled, creative and desperately in love with her college sweetheart, Warner Huntingdon III. But when Warner announces he's off to Stanford Law School, and that while there he aims to find a girl 'more serious' than Elle to be his wife, Elle and Underdog, her pet Bichon Frise, hatch a plan to follow him so that he will marry her like he's supposed to do. Elle's Stanford misadventures are distinctly unpromising from the outset, and it seems that the one place where blondes definitely don't have more fun is law school. But then she's made an intern on the Murder of Malibu case, defending one-time fitness queen and apricot blonde Brooke Vandermark from the charge of murdering her billionaire husband. In a courtroom triumph, Elle vindicates Brooke and all who are blonde at heart with a tip any Cosmo girl should know.

After the success of the movie, there were actually books about Elle in her high school years written by a different author and aimed at a younger crowd. From the summaries of them, they seem to directly contradict what is hinted at with Elle's background, but the idea is nice. Oddly enough, these books are now out of print, but I plan on buying them used on Amazon after Christmas.

Movies


The first movie was released in 2001 and starred Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods. The movie was a bit of an unexpected hit and it ended up putting Reese Witherspoon (who had been a teen movie actress before the release of the film) on the Hollywood A-List. The plot of the movie is pretty much the same with differences in setting (Stanford became Harvard Law), majors (jewelry design to fashion merchandising) and dog (Underdog the Bichon Frise became Bruiser the Chihuahua) and other things I probably don't know about. Anyway, Elle's journey became part of the Girl Power movement of the late 90s and early 2000s due to the fact Elle didn't let perceptions of herself define who she is. The movie also featured Luke Wilson as Emmett Richmond, Selma Blair as Vivian Kensington, Jennifer Coolidge as Paulette Bonafonte, Victor Garber as Callahan and Ali Larter as Brooke Windham.



The film was quickly followed by the sequel Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde in 2003 and it followed Elle on her journey to Washington to outlaw Animal Testing before her wedding in order to reunite Bruiser with his mother.

No, I'm not kidding.

To be honest, every time I watch this movie, the worse it gets. There are some good parts of it (like Elle finding out Bruiser is gay and the little Delta Nu chant in the hair salon), but for the most part, it's just bad. Many of the plot points from the first one are re-hashed (Elle leaves her comfort zone to get her way, faces adversity from people who don't take her seriously, catches a liar in the act due to her infinite Cosmo knowledge, etc.), it messes up the timeline set by the first movie and everything else is just cartoony as all hell. The process of Congress is severely dumbed down, Elle sort of regresses and Paulette is just an idiot. I believe the only things the writers of the musical took away from this was the concept of 'snaps' and the idea that Delta Nus have songs just for themselves.



In 2009, the second sequel Legally Blondes was released. The first Legally Blonde film not to feature Elle Woods, it instead follows her two British cousins Annie and Izzy Woods as they move to California and attend prep school. Again, I haven't seen the movie yet, but from reading the plot on wiki, it's a lot like the plot of the first Legally Blonde, but with prep school kids instead of law school students. More on this when I actually see the movie.

Musical


After a try out run in San Francisco, Legally Blonde: The Musical opened on Broadway in 2007. I'll admit that I was originally vehemently against it. A musical version of my favorite chick flick? I object!

Well, after MTV aired the musical that October, I was not afraid to admit I was wrong. The musical is actually DAMN good and in some aspects, it's better than the original movie.

Once again, the plot coheres to what was done in the book and the movie. Elle Woods, a sorority president and Fashion Merchandising major at UCLA, gets dumped by her boyfriend Warner Hunnington III because he wants "more of a Jackie, not a Marylin". In order to prove herself, Elle "wrecks her senior spring" in order to get into Harvard Law to prove herself to Warner.

This is where the main differences between the movie and the musical show up.

In the movie, the Emmett character is sort of peripheral and was sort of tacked on to Elle at the end just so she would have someone to end up. For the most part, Elle kicks her own ass into shape after she realizes that she's going to have to do more to be taken seriously. In the musical, Emmett (who's last name is changed from Richmond to Forrest) serves as something as a mentor to Elle and helps her see her own potential. Also, several of the characters were more rounded out and given different endings (like Elle thanks Warner for dumping her instead of burning him).



The role of musical Elle was originated by Laura Bell Bundy (who's also my choice of PB), who was the original Amber Von Tussle in Hairspray, Kristen Chenoweth's standby as Glinda in Wicked and the original Sherrie in the LA production of Rock Of Ages. Other main roles included Christian Borle (Prince Herbert in Spamalot) as Emmett, Orfeh (Annette in Saturday Night Fever) as Paulette, Kate Shindle as Vivianne, Michael Rupert as Callahan and Nikki Snelson as Brooke Wyndham.



Because MTV can't leave anything good they have going for them alone, they soon launched a reality show titled The Search for Elle Woods. I didn't watch it because I'm a cynical bitch, but the winner Bailey Hanks got to play Elle until the show closed in October of 2008. I have to admit though, her version of 'So Much Better' isn't too bad.



When the musical went on tour, the role of Elle was taken over Becky Gulsvig, who had been Laura's standby during the original Broadway run. She was actually briefly replaced by Laura on tour after she was injured, but then Laura ended up injuring herself. Oi. Becky also performed 'So Much Better' at this year's Tony Awards.



In 2010, the musical will be transferring to London's West End. Elle will be played by actress Sheridan Smith with former 5th Doctor Peter Davidson as Callahan and Blue member Duncan James. They did a music video for 'So Much Better' and it was odd.



Besides the West End production, Legally Blonde has already begun transferring to international markets. It is currently running in South Korea with three actresses (Miss Korea 2006 Lee Honey, Jessica Jung of Girls Generation, and actress Kim Ji-woo) splitting the role of Elle Woods. Just for lulz, my preferred Korean!Elle is Jessica. Productions of Legally Blonde in the Philippines and the Netherlands will start in 2010 and I've heard that there will also be a Japanese production sometime in the future. For now, have Jessica singing 'So Much Better'.

And since I forgot to include it earlier, here's Laura Bell Bundy singing 'So Much Better'. Yes, this song is the musical's song. Think of it like it's 'Defying Gravity', 'The Internet Is For Porn' or 'It's Time'. For posterity, I'm also including 'There, Right There!' aka 'Gay Or European'.



So yeah...that's all I can think of for Legally Blonde. If you have any other questions about canon, just leave a comment and I'll try by best to answer. :D
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Elle Woods

December 2009

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