As the house lights went down, Bailey Hanks was eager to begin her next chapter. Hanks was making her Broadway debut after winning MTV’s reality show contest, Legally Blonde: The Musical, the search for the next Elle Woods and prior to her Great White Way debut, Hanks sat down with SheKnows.
There was a long road that was the MTV show that she triumphed. Those pressures are pale in comparison to what she’s embarking on now…a full fledged career as a Broadway musical leading lady.
Twenty-year-old Bailey Hanks fulfilled a lifelong dream by auditioning her heart out for a Broadway musical in front of millions of viewers. She beat out nine other hopefuls on MTV’s Legally Blonde reality show and then she had to wait. And wait. And wait. Then, finally, she could tell the world that she’s so much better!
By taking over the role of Elle Woods that had been portrayed by the incredibly talented Laura Bell Bundy, she had big pink shoes to fill. But to this native South Carolinan, she’s handling it in stride. The outgoing Elle told the incoming Elle to stay humble. “She was very very encouraging and was so proud of me,” notes Hanks. “She told me to enjoy it and really have fun.”
Plus, she also departed words of wisdom. For instance, in one scene in the musical after Part II, Elle’s wearing a marching band suit that weighs about 25 pounds. Laura reminded Bailey she doesn’t have to belt it out. “She told me to just speak it and breathe.”
Give my regards to Broadway
“It was quite the emotional journey,” notes the new showstopper prior to her opening night in late July. “It was a whirlwind of excitement. I wasn’t nervous…I’ve wanted this role ever since I found out Legally Blonde was coming to Broadway.”
If you watched the reality show you may have noticed auditions included challenges like riding an exercise bike while singing. This was not an accident: the musical is particularly physical and the cast needs to be in tip top shape to perform at their very best. In one scene, the actresses and actors are singing as they’re, get this, jumping rope! While the show trained Banks for her Broadway debut, she’s making some minor adjustments. “I always go to bed at a reasonable time and try to get at least eight hours of sleep. I drink a lot of water, at least three bottles each day. My stamina’s getting stronger and stronger. I feel great!”
In fact, while the show was filming for three to four weeks in a stressful situation where she couldn’t talk to her family, the whole experience helped her prepare for opening night. “Learning scenes during the reality show made it easy to learn the Broadway show.”
While she mentions the most challenging scene in the entire production is performing the ballad of Legally Blonde, since it’s a big scene where you need to let loose, Hanks attributes working through struggles conquered during the reality TV show as how she triumphed on stage for opening night.
What better role to make her debut than playing Elle Woods, the heroine, the smart woman who attracts friends and positivity?
“She’s a lot like me. I can really relate to Elle Woods. She helped me get along where I am today,” Hanks said. It sounds like the wise beyond her years Hailey has channeled Woods with her best of intentions persona. “She finds good in everyone. Everyone offers something different and valuable in life.You have to stay positive in life and never judge anyone.”
Bailey Hanks will perform Legally Blonde: the Musical through January 28. Get tickets by visiting www.playbill.com.