Bailey Hanks is blonde. She's beautiful. And she's here in the bay area reprising her role as Elle Woods in the the hit musical comedy, Legally Blonde, the Musical! After an acclaimed turn on Broadway (she won the role after knocking down the competition in MTV's The Search for Elle Woods) she's taken to the road and is making the role her own. Legally Blonde, the Musical! will be bending and snapping in the Diablo Theatre Company's production starting Feb. 10 and running through Mar. 3
Hanks talked with BWW's Linda Hodges about what it was like to be in the MTV spotlight, how she handles the challenges in her life what scrumptious thing she and Elle have in common - besides being blondes! That interview follows.
Hi, Bailey – thank you for doing this interview with BroadwayWorld San Francisco and welcome to the City by the Bay. It’s a thrill for us to have Legally Blonde, the Musical back on the west coast after it had its pre-Broadway tryouts here in San Francisco.
You had your pre-Broadway tryout before an MTV audience for their reality show, The Search for Elle Woods. It was in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers. What was that like?
Well, my pre-Broadway run was in front of a TV audience but, while filming it was easy to forget that cameras were around us 24/7 because I was so focused on winning the ultimate prize and making my dreams come true.
The show had amazing ratings. It just caught on like wildfire.
Once the show aired (which was about 4 months after we wrapped filming) it was crazy to see the large response from people and fans from all over...and once the show aired in the US it began airing in the UK and Australia...so it was AMAZING to hear from fans overseas!
Before you found out about MTV’s The Search for Elle Woods, what projects were you working on?
Before that I was helping backstage and doing costumes for the local production of Cinderella. (I wasn’t in it because I was off at Coastal Carolina College and missed auditions). So I helped dress Cinderella! Then I was accepted into Belmont University’s musical theatre department the week after my Legally Blonde auditions. Sooooo…it was a huge decision...college or a chance of a lifetime? Needless to say I made the right choice because I WON!
You certainly made your dreams come true. And now you’re playing sorority sister Elle in a completely new setting here on the west coast. Was it a simple shift or were there challenges?
Well, this process here at Diablo Theatre has TRULY pushed me, challenged me and made me (I think) a better Elle than I was before. I have to learn a totally new show, new people, new relationships, new sets and stage...and I get the creative freedom to bring Bailey to Elle.
Let’s talk a little bit about you and your character. Elle is from California and you’re from South Carolina. Other differences?
Besides the obvious...she is from California. And she comes from a wealthy Bev Hills family, and I do not. Ha ha!
Yeah, not too many people fit that profile. I mean just the size of her swimming pool (in the movie version) seemed bigger than most houses! Similarities?
We are blonde, we’re both belles, we can be naive and believe in others and in ourselves. We are optimistic and loving. I learn from her every day while in the process of rehearsals. She is such an awesome, strong woman!
What’s your favorite thing about Elle?
My favorite thing about Elle is her compassion for others, and her determination. When she gets knocked down, she finds a new way to get up and go! And try it again.
I love how much Elle grows. She’s confident in her role as Sorority president but turns to mush when her boyfriend dumps her. Then, as we know, Elle eventually comes into her own. Are we all like that where men are concerned? (Wouldn’t it be great if we could just skip that stage!) Have you ever been a fool for love?
HA! I think it would be a lie if ANYONE said they have never been a fool for love. Of course I have! Probably one too many times for the WRONG person. But, just like Elle I have grown and found my Emmett! Someone who loves me for ME, and believes in me and what I want for my life.