It was an up and down night for Natalie on Legally Blonde The Musical -- The Search for Elle Woods. She won the first competition, a photo shoot in which the idea of standing on a bunch of law books apparently put her over the top. But ultimately she was sent packing because the judges just couldn't see her as Elle Woods.
This episode, in which the contestants got their hair styled blonde to put them all on equal footing in the looks department, was the big redemption for Autumn. After a horrible week in which she bombed in the dance audition, got sick on stage -- reportedly from eating bad yogurt, not nerves -- and wound up in the casting office for the second straight week, she needed a big night to reclaim her front-runner status. And she made a big move with a vocal audition that, from what we were shown, was miles ahead of the competition in maturity, confidence and interpretation.
Autumn was buoyed by a coaching session with Seth Rudetsky, in which he talked to her about having a tough time in auditions and advised: “Say, ‘I’m doing an amazing-few-minutes show.’ It’s not about getting to the next level. It’s about, ‘I’m getting a few minutes to perform on stage.’”
She also seemed to get a lot out of the final five's audience with the current Elle Woods, Lexington's Laura Bell Bundy. Autumn asked Laura what she took from the role, creating a very authentic moment from the Tony nominee who choked up answering:
"Spirit is the word – inspired. I became more true to myself . . . I get emotional thinking about it . . . it’s been the best experience of my life, because I grew as a human being, because of my character, because of my connection to her and my openness. And the fact that I got to express emotion and not hold things in was good therapy for me and I grew as I was finding her.”
It was neat to see Laura still retains a lot of the same emotions she had about this part and this show nearly two years ago, when she was just grasping the reality that she would originate the role of Elle Woods on Broadway. Though she's now been playing the part for well over a year, last night gave you the impression it must be tough for her to walk away.
Autumn seemed to appreciate that, which felt somewhat appropriate, because she definitely walked away from last night's show as an heir apparent.
Now, we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. Afterall, two weeks ago, Emma seemed to right her ship, and then she was sent packing last week. But this week was different. Autumn's only rival was 18-year-old Lauren, and while the judges liked her, they seemed to feel she probably needed a few more years of work.
Bailey and Rhiannon came up a few steps behind her. Last night, they were auditioning with the title song at the moment Elle feels like she's lost everything she thought she'd achieved. Autumn grasped the complexities of that in a difficult and emotional song. If they can get the dances in Autumn's legs, at this point, it's hard to not see her as the next Elle Woods on Broadway.
Above: Laura Bell Bundy in the first promotional photo for Legally Blonde -- The Musical. Photo courtesy of Barlow Hartman.
As always, check out Seth's breakdown of last night's show.