Julie Stevens (no login) Posted Jul 22, 2008 12:58 AM
By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
NEW YORK Bailey Hanks had never seen a Broadway show before auditioning for the hit musical Legally Blonde. But she knew all about Elle Woods, the perky coed-turned-Harvard Law whiz.
"I saw both Legally Blonde movies as soon as they came out," says Hanks, 20. She played the original film on video "so often that our VCR ate it up. At that point, I had to buy the DVD."
All that research is paying off for the pastor's daughter from Anderson, S.C., who was revealed Monday as the winner of MTV's reality series Legally Blonde The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods.
Hanks begins performances Wednesday at the Palace Theatre, replacing Tony-nominated leading lady Laura Bell Bundy. She already has recorded a song from the show, So Much Better, available at iTunes and Amazon.
Hanks has been performing in school and community productions since she was 5, including appearances as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Baby June in Gypsy and the title role in Annie, for which the blond actress cut her hair and dyed it red. ("If I'm going to be Annie, I want to know how it feels.")