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Broadway Bullet Interview: Kate Shindle & Richard Blake

In Legally Blonde, Sorority star Elle Woods doesn't take "no" for an answer. So when her boyfriend dumps her for someone "serious," Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books, and sets out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before: Harvard Law. Along the way, Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style.  Legally Blonde:  The Musical has been created by a dean's list of top-of-their-class Broadway talent, including Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray); composer and lyricist Laurence O'Keefe (Batboy) and Nell Benjamin (Sarah, Plain and Tall); book writer Heather Hach (Freaky Friday); and scenic designer David Rockwell (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).

We talk to, and hear from actors, Kate Shindle and Richard H. Blake.  From the Original Broadway Cast Recording, we hear the songs "Legally Blonde Remix," and "Serious".

Broadway Bullet Interview: Kate Schindle and Richard Blake of Legally Blonde 

BROADWAY BULLET: The Legally Blonde cast album just came out a few weeks ago, and we've been working on getting a couple of people in the studio for an interview. It's taken so much time because Legally Blonde is so popular, and I was afraid it'd take a little longer today, but we've got Kate Shindle and Richard Blake here with us.  How are you guys doing?

Richard H. Blake: How are you doing?

Kate Shindle: Okay. It's a little crazy out there today.

BB: Yeah, every subway is running late; it took me three hours and fifteen minutes to take my twenty-minute subway ride.

RB: That's absurd.

BB: I was sure this wasn't gonna happen today.

RB: A little flash flood will do that to you.

KS: I bet people were really friendly, though, on the train. (laughter)

BB: Oh yeah.

KS: Everyone was really nice there.

BB: And it was packed.

RB: I got to listen to a lot of news on 1010 WINS on my way in, so if you guys want to know what's going on in the world, just ask me afterwards.

KS: Richard lives in the faraway country of New Jersey.

RB: -- where Kate Shindle is from.

KS: I am. I am from New Jersey.

BB: So, how have you guys been enjoying your stint with Legally Blonde?  It's been a few months now, and you've settled into the roles.

RB: Okay, first of all, when you say "stint," it makes me feel like it's almost over, so don't scare me like that. (laughter)

KS: It strikes me into immediate money panic.

RB: Exactly. (laughter)

BB: I should bring this up with the two of you in here, how long are you contracted for?  How long does our audience have to catch you two in the show?

KS: I'm in until -- I think the second week of January.

RB: We're in at the same time. We both are contracted for a year from our first performance, which was in San Francisco. And hopefully, if things go well, and they continue to like us, maybe we'll stay a little bit longer.

KS: Yeah. You know what, it's great. We've been open for -- officially open for about two months, and started previews three months ago. And what's weird is -- I don't know if it's weird because other shows are closing, I don't know if it's because it's summer -- but our audiences have just been getting better and more hyper -- and they tend to make sounds that only the dogs can hear when they're screaming. (laughter)

RB: Well, it's great, especially during the summer, we get all of the kids, which is such a great energy; you know, all the kids who are off for summer vacation, and it's like a mini little rock concert.  It's great.

BB: Which is kind of unusual because the show's so drab and dreary. (laughter)

RB: Yeah, yeah, it's such a downer.

KS: I know, it's like, you wouldn't expect that with this show, about Fourteenth-Century Italy, but for whatever reason, they're just flocking.

BB: Well, we're going to play a couple of songs from the show, we're gonna play two full ones and a couple of snippets, and discuss what's going on.  So, maybe let's kind of get the ball rolling a little bit, and go in order, and that means it's your song first, Richard.

RB: All right.

BB: Do you want to tell us a little bit about this song, the story behind it, the set-up behind it?

RB: Well, this is right at the beginning of the show. In the first scene, Elle -- Elle Woods, Reese Witherspoon from the movie, for those of you at home who have only seen the movie -- that character is preparing to go out to dinner with me, where she believes that I am going to propose to her.  And so then I show up, and take her to this beautiful restaurant, and I guess the rest you can hear in the song.

KS: He shows up in aviator sunglasses, and I think that's an important detail that should not be overlooked.

RB: It's true, it's quite a spectacular moment that Jerry Mitchell [director] gave me to -- you know, be made fun of.

BB: All right, so here's "Serious".

Click here to listen to "Serious" on Broadway Bullet vol. 123

BB: So heading from San Francisco -- you guys were both in the San Francisco production --

KS: Yeah.

BB: -- and coming over here. And in San Francisco the word-of-mouth was just crazy. Everyone was like, "Woah, this is a big hit coming to Broadway!"

KS: Yeah.

BB: And I guess I'm kind of curious, you know, the feeling behind -- because I think everyone is still shocked that Legally Blonde didn't wind up with a Best Musical [Tony nomination].

RB: Ooh, you're going to get into the controversy.

KS: You know, our producers sort of gathered us onstage the next day -- because we don't do Tuesday night shows -- so the nominations came out on a Tuesday, and we came in for the Wednesday matinee, and there was this announcement that's like, "So Hal and Christian would like to see everyone onstage. Don't worry it's nothing bad, we're not closing!" (laughs) And Hal basically said, you know, something crazy -- he said, almost exactly, that something crazy happens every year at the Tonys, and this year it was our turn.  But then they sort of turned around and said, "And with the money we're not going to spend having to perform on the Tonys, we're going to put it all into marketing, and here is our plan."  And they didn't panic at all, so neither did we.  And what's lovely is that the audience for the show only seems to be growing, aided, I think, by the release of the album -- which people seem to really like.  But Richard's been in more Broadway shows than years I've been alive, (laughter) so he probably knows better about some of that.

RB: Wow. Yeah, it definitely was kind of a shock just because we all really feel proud of what we're doing and the audiences do seem to like it so much.  But at the same time, it's Legally Blonde -- I understand; I've done more movie musicals than anybody on the planet, so I kind of had -- I was a little bit aware of what might happen.

BB: What are a couple of the other ones you've been in?

RB: Oh God, Footloose.

KS: Name a movie.

RB: Wedding Singer, Hairspray, Saturday Night Fever -- yeah, I've run the gamut.  But, like Kate said, the album has certainly helped.  We were number one, I think, last week on the soundtrack chart.

BB: It even debuted on the Top 100 Billboard.

RB: Yeah, and Billboard's Top 100, which is unheard of and amazing.

KS: I couldn't believe that.

RB: So we're all very, very excited about that, and still about just putting out a great show, and audiences seem to respond to that.

KS: And there are actually a couple of sort of unconventional things in the works that we are so not at liberty to talk about right now, but that I think are really creative and sort of -- I hate this expression, but -- "thinking outside the box," in terms of how to market and put a Broadway show out into the --  allow it to reach the target audience, who can't necessarily spend $120 to come see it.

RB: That was great, now everybody's going, (whispers) "What is it? What are they gonna do?"

KS: You have to come to Legally Blonde! We'll be announcing it from stage during one of the curtain calls in the next six weeks!

RB: (whispers) They're going to perform on the moon! (laughter)

KS: Because that's where our target audience is, the moon.

BB: Let's take a listen to another snippet of one of the songs. I'm wondering if you have any stories surrounding it at all.  It's "Whipped into Shape," is the one we're gonna playing next.

KS: "Whipped into Shape" is awesome, because we're not in it. (laughter)

RB: We're in it, but the number actually takes place in a jail cell, and Brooke Wyndham, the woman on trial, is an aerobics instructor, and she has the people in the jail cell working out with jump ropes. So this entire number is done while jumping rope.  It's amazing; it's truly something to look at in awe.  We don't have to jump rope, so for us, this number rocks!

KS: We roll in and out on rolling chairs.

RB: Yeah, we basically just stand there and do a little scene work, and sing a little bit, but this one is an easy one for us, and we just get to laugh at everybody else who has to sweat like crazy.

KS: But Jerry [Mitchell], our director, invited us -- those of us who weren't in the number -- to come do it every day, because they were jumping rope every day, from the day we started rehearsals, from 10:00-11:00.  So we were never called in before 11:00, but if we wanted to come at 10:00, and do the jump rope just as a warm up, and, you know, just to be fit, and whatever, I did! I was so excited; I was like, "I wanna get into shape, and my costumes will be too big, and it's great!" And I lasted three days before I hurt my back so badly that I couldn't jump up and down.

RB: Which was exactly three days longer than me.

KS: Yeah, right. (laughter)

BB: Here's a little bit of "Whipped into Shape".

Click here to listen to a clip of "Whipped into Shape" on Broadway Bullet vol. 123


RB: Oh, that number rocks!

BB: So, one of the minor things that impressed me somehow -- you know in the little things that are like somehow impressive -- is the way the jump rope froze in the freeze segments.

KS: Stage magic.

RB: Things we can do with CGI. (laughter) No, we have a couple of those little trickery things in the show.  In the opening scene, there's a pole slide -- like a firemen pole slide, where one person gets on in a robe, and as they slide down --  it's like very Batman-esque -- they end up in full costume by the time they got to the bottom of the pole.

KS: And Laura Bell's dress.

RB: Oh yeah, the magnetized dress.

KS: And it's amazing that these things are so simple. If you know how they work, you sort of go, "Well, how could anyone not figure out how that works?"  And yet, people constantly ask, "Wow, how did you do the jump rope?  How did you do the dress?" You know, it's just -- whatever works for people I guess.  I'm still wondering about the Phantom in the chair, you know at the end of Phantom [of the Opera], so I guess that's my sort of idiocy. I still haven't figured out how they do that.

BB: Well, moving onto the next song that we're going to play, this one most people -- if they have seen the movie at all, they should probably recognize where this came from.  It's "Bend and Snap".

RB: It's a move that my character does in the show a lot, so that's where it -- (laughter) oh wait, no, that's not me.  Kate, you're a female, you should describe this one.

KS: I'm not in "Bend and Snap."  But, I will say that when I first heard they were making Legally Blonde into a musical, I thought, Well, of course, there's going to be a bend and snap number, because it's just, I think, one of the most natural moments in the movie to expand into a musical number.

RB: It almost was a musical number in the film.  Kind of.

KS: Sort of.  Basically, it's this sort of patented move that Paulette, the hairdresser character, accidentally does without knowing it, and then everybody spends the entire number telling her why this move is so effective on straight guys, and why she has to use it when her UPS guy comes back. And then, actually, it figures very prominently in a way it didn't in the movie, into what happens later in the court case, in the following scene -- which we are in, yay! (laughter) Which we ride moving benches in for.

BB: And in this number, her three friends in the movie are kind of used as a Greek chorus in the show.

RB: Yeah, yeah.  Margot, Serena, Pilar -- PMS, which is how we affectionately call them -- they are used as a Greek chorus, and they sort of show up periodically throughout the show, and bring a lot of comedic -- I don't know, comedic interlude.

KS: Belting. 

RB: Belting and interludes and snippets.

BB: All right, well here's a little taste of "Bend and Snap".

Click here to listen to a snippet of "Bend and Snap" on Broadway Bullet vol. 123


RB: It's a real shame they can't sing, those girls.

BB: We're coming up on your song Kate, I promise.

KS: Oh you know what? I don't know if everybody does, but I have a really hard time listening to myself on recordings, unless we've spent weeks and weeks and weeks listening and mixing. 

RB: (whispers) You don't have to.

KS: I know, yay!  So no, I'm fine with it.

BB: So moving on, I should say the next scene this song is from the courtroom case.  The song is "There, Right There!"

KS: Oh, you're playing this one!

BB: Just a snippet, there's definitely going to be a surprise left when you get the cast recording.

RB: Honestly, for those of you who haven't seen the show, and who are definitely coming to the show -- as you all are, everyone listening to this is coming to see the show.

KS: Or Richard Blake will hunt you down in his new SUV.

RB: Or I will hunt you down.  This is actually like one of the most fun numbers on Broadway.  Honestly, in all of the shows I've done, this one's kind of just crazy and a lot of fun.  And the "Bend and Snap," which we just heard, does play heavily into this scene, which I'm not going to give away because you guys are gonna have to come see it.

KS: Yeah. What's nice about this song, I think, and one of the later numbers, is that the pacing of the show, for us, dictates that this comes at the exact moment that you would start to crash.  Like, "Oh, we're halfway through Act Two, we've got some more show to do," but then suddenly you're doing these insanely silly things and singing these ridiculous lyrics and Irish dancing, eventually.

RB: (sighs) Great, give it away.

KS: (laughs) I gave away the Irish dancing, which is pivotal.  It's just so silly and fun and nice to do because it kind of lifts the energy for us, right at the point where the energy could start to take a nose dive.  It's -- I think it's a well-paced show.

RB: Word.

KS: Word.

BB: All right, so here's a little bit of "There, Right There!"

Click here to listen to a clip of "There, Right There!" on Broadway Bullet Vol. 123

BB: Now, we all know with musicals, there can tend to be a lot of rewrites and songs thrown out, and I'm curious if either of the two of you had songs written for your characters that you really liked that got tossed, or if there was just a song from the show that you thought was really good that just didn't make it in for dramatic reasons.

KS: (To Richard) You know what's funny? You and me are probably two of the only people whose stuff has been the same since day one.

RB: Yeah, since day one, since the very first reading that we did, which was years ago.  But Kate and I are in a number in the show that is now called "Positive," and we're in that number, sort of.  We freeze, and we stand in a freeze throughout the number.

KS: Yes.

RB: But hey, we're in it!

KS: But what's going on around us changes.

RB: But what's going on around us has changed more than any other number in the show. It went through so many different titles and melodies and -- you know, then they finally got it right.

KS: Yeah, there are three -- well there's another number, the "Ireland" song.

RB: Oh yeah.

KS: That was a couple of completely different numbers. It started out as that "Good Boy Dog" song.

RB: Oh yeah, about a dog. And then "Bad Idea".

KS: And then "Bad Idea," which I actually loved. I thought "Bad Idea" was hysterical.

RB: "Bad Idea" was actually a pretty funny song.

KS: And then it became this ballad, called "Ireland". But, even within the numbers that have remained, there have been a lot of changed lyrics. Like "Bend and Snap," they gave them new lyrics one night, and they went in the next day, during a preview, and performed the song with all of the lyrics rewritten from top to bottom.

RB: Thank God mine have never changed because I don't have the brain capacity to do it.

KS: I like to phone it in myself. (laughter) Anything that requires thought is just too much.

BB: And, if anybody does want to hear "Ireland," we do play the full song of "Ireland," we have that in volume 118, when Orfeh came into chat.

RB: Oh.

KS: Excellent.

BB: So it's still out there for people to check.

RB: Go back kids, go back!

KS: Smell you, Nancy Drew.

RB: Yeah, she can sing, that Orfeh.

BB: Well, now, for this next song -- I guess it sounds like Kate wants to go running from the room -- we're up to your song, which I am going to award the category of most confusing title. (laughter)

KS: Right, and yet, when you see it in the show, I think it makes perfect sense. It's ridiculous, but it makes sense, you know? (laughs) Yeah, it's pretty insane.

BB: We're going to play the full one of this, and any set up needed for "Legally Blonde Remix," your number?

KS: Well, do I blow the entire show?

RB: I'll set it up. I'll set it up by saying that just know that to hit the notes that Kate's hitting in this song is not easy.

KS: You know, it's funny, because I don't sing much in the show, I certainly sing less in this show than any other show I've ever done, actually.

BB: For instance, you did Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde.

KS: Yeah, right, where it's like seven power ballads in a row. We did it in a concert setting, actually, where there was so little time in betwee that I was just fried.  But what does go on with this song, it's not even all me, but it's kind of looming over the entire show, so I'm always having to check myself and make sure I'm not over singing in some ensemble thing that will render me unavailable for participation in the stuff where it really counts.

BB: All right, let's take a listen.

Click here to listen to "Legally Blonde Remix" on Broadway Bullet vol. 123


BB: Okay, were going to have to wrap this up quickly because I know you guys gotta run over to the theater, and get ready to do a show.

RB: We've got to do all of that live now.

KS: I'm not running anywhere, it's like ninety-five degrees out.

BB: I do want to let our listeners know that over this week we will be giving away four copies of the cast recording.

KS: Awesome. 

RB: Can I get one?

BB: No, no. 

RB: Okay.

BB: But the only way they can find out how to win is if they're registered at broadwaybullet.com, so they should sign up quickly so they can get it.

RB: (sings) Register, register.

KS: Sign up now while you're thinking about it!

RB: You can get a copy of Legally Blonde, which is like number one on the theater soundtrack and on the Billboard 100! Come on! No other Broadway show is there! Well, maybe they are -- 

KS: And it features Broadway's Richard H. Blake, which, you know --

BB: It's on Ghost Light Records, you can get it at any record store --

RB: You can get it at any record store, Virgin anywhere.  

BB: Amazon, iTunes -- 

RB: Yeah, but they want to sign up here so they can get the free one.

BB: It's probably being bootlegged on a corner down in like Chinatown.

KS: Yeah, right next to Rush Hour 3 is the Legally Blonde cast album. (laughter)

RB: That's only when I have time to go down there and sell them.

BB: Well, Richard and Kate, I thank you so much for coming down and chatting in this crazy, crazy traffic day. 

KS: Aww, thank you.

RB: Word.

KS: It's insane, but it's was totally worth it.

RB: I won't say that anymore, I promise.

KS: Yeah, please don't.

RB: I won't ever say "word" again.  No, absolutely, thanks for having us.

KS: Thanks for having us, bye.

BB: Bye. 

Photos: 1.) (l-r) Kate Shindle, Richard Blake, Laura Bell Bundy, and Michael Rupert in a scene from Legally Blonde, 2.) The main cast of Legally Blonde, 3.) The composers of Legally Blonde, Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, 4.) Legally Blonde: the Musical logo

 



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From This Author Michael Gilboe