Anderson native heads to Broadway

Anderson native Bailey Hanks will be polishing her pink pumps Wednesday night in preparation for her debut as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde The Musical” on Broadway. The 20-year-old was chosen from 10 finalists on the MTV reality show “Legally Blonde The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods.”

She’s scheduled to perform the role for six months.

“From the moment I saw (‘Legally Blonde’) was going to be a musical, I told myself I would play that role,” Hanks said by phone Tuesday from New York. “It's a passion of mine. It's a brilliant musical. It's just a great role.”

Hanks dazzled the judges during the grueling two-month audition with her singing, dancing and acting skills — although she did struggle to tame her pronounced Southern accent (Elle Woods is supposed to be from California).

During the preliminary rounds, the former Coastal Carolina student drove to Nashville, Tenn., to audition. Hanks was named the winner of the show, which aired Monday night, during a private taping on March 18. Since then she has been in rehearsals and recording her first single from the play, “So Much Better,” which is available for download on iTunes.

The character of Elle Woods was made famous by Reese Witherspoon in the 2001 “Legally Blonde” film and later on Broadway by Laura Bell Bundy. Hanks believes she has a lot in common with the bubbly, blonde fashion student with ambitions to finish Harvard Law School and win back her ex-boyfriend.

“She's underestimated but she's intelligent and strong-willed,” Hanks said. “If something gets in her way she takes another route. She's kind and not judgmental, and I feel that I am the same way.”

Hanks said the girls in the competition turned to each other for support, which kept her going even though at times she felt lonely. “There were so many wonderful things going on,” she said. “And I had no one I really knew to share it with. We could only talk to our parents once for 10 minutes.”

Hanks has been on stage in various local productions since she was five, including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Seussical the Musical,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and more. Despite the pressure of hurtling from S.C. to Broadway, this newly-minted Elle Woods isn’t one bit nervous about her debut.

“The stage is like my second home, and I feel so comfortable. I just want to go out there and be excited and just to have fun.”

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