Crowning a new leader

On this rather important evening, the vote to secure the leader of the Australian government as we get closer to the 2013 election, why not stick with the theme everyone is talking about? Changing leadership.


There are quite a number of long-running shows currently on Broadway. Wicked, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, Chicago, Rock of Ages, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia and, of course, The Phantom of the Opera. And unfortunately for these musicals, the main leads cannot stay with the show forever.

As a result, Broadway producers are quite often faced with the question of who they cast in the lead role next. Do you go for the celebrity who will bring in audiences? Do you cast an incredibly talented Broadway performer who will lift the roof off every night? (And if you are lucky, the new lead satisfies both of those criteria).

There are a wide variety of approaches across the different shows. Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera tend to cast big Broadway performers. Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages and Chicago tend to cast celebrities. Neither approach is more right than the other, but there has been a rather interesting attempt to satisfy both of those criteria when recasting the role of Elle Woods in the original run of Legally Blonde on Broadway!

When recasting the role of Elle Woods, a character who spends practically the entire show on stage and carries the musical with their performance, there is quite a bit of pressure to get it right. So why not aim to have a performer who is a ridiculously talented triple-threat and is also a celebrity who will bring people to the show?

Legally Blonde decided to televise the entire audition process in an MTV show Legally Blonde: the Musical – The Search for Elle Woods.

While the public didn’t get to vote for the replacement, they were invited behind the scenes as these girls went through week after week of challenges related to the show that featured current cast members and industry big-wigs. Think Masterchef with singing.

Not only did this process make sure that the producers chose the most talented girl for the part, it also encouraged these girls to become celebrities in their own right and bring new audience members to the musical who had become hooked on the television show. More than this, by shaping challenges around scenes in the musical and revealing the survivors each week in the same way that Elle Woods finds out that she has won an internship at the end of Act 1, the producers guarantee that viewers who go along to see the musical will enjoy the show.

And we know what happy customers means . . . positive word-of-mouth.

So, on this momentus evening in Australia, maybe we should take a leaf from the book of Broadway and pick 10 political contestants who then compete to win a prize: the position of Prime Minister.

Maybe not? But it would be more exciting than a 10 minute vote!