Lucy Durack can’t believe her luck, scoring the lead in another hit musical. She speaks with Lizzie Franks about her current role in Legally Blonde, the show that has taken Broadway and the West End by storm
Lucy Durack says she “absolutely fell in love” with Legally Blonde the Musical when she saw it for the first time on Broadway. Little did Durack know that a few years later she would land the coveted lead role in the Australian production. Based on the 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon, the musical was the surprise hit of Broadway when it premiered in 2007 and is now in its third sold-out year on the West End. It has won a swag of awards, including the prestigious Best New Musical award at last year’s Oliviers.
Lucy Durack in Legally Blonde the Muisical. Photo by Brian Geach
Durack was cast as sorority sister turned law student Elle Woods after nearly eight months of auditions. “It was the longest audition process of my life,” she says during a break from rehearsals at the ABC Studios in Sydney. “I started auditioning in March last year. In November, the people I was auditioning for in Sydney said, ‘We’ve seen all we need to see but now you need to audition for [director and choreographer] Jerry Mitchell.’
This article is published in the Spring 2012 issue of The Equity Magazine, out next week.
“I was starting to think I was never going to find out. By the time I was auditioning in front of Jerry and a huge panel of people in London, the whole thing had been going on for so long that I was actually quite calm and I had let go of any desperation or inhibitions. I was thinking, ‘It’s either meant to be or it’s not’.”
Mitchell awarded Durack the role on the spot. “The big audition in London was a day after my birthday,” she says. “What better present could I ask for! I have never found out on the spot before.”
WAAPA graduate Durack is best known for playing Glinda the good witch throughout Wicked’s hugely successful Australian tour. “Getting two such iconic roles in a row is unbelievable,” she says. “I feel so fortunate that I happened to be the right age, look and vibe for both parts, and that I was in the right place at the right time.”
After more than 1400 performances as Glinda, Durack says she is nervous about stepping into Elle’s sparkly pink shoes for the first time. “I haven’t done a musical since Wicked … so it is kind of nerve-racking. I have to get my show fitness back so I can smash out eight shows a week.”
Legally Blonde the Musical is faithful to the movie, in which sorority queen and social butterfly Elle Woods heads off to Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend after he dumps her for someone more serious. “This is a show with real guts and real heart,” says Durack. “Despite first impressions, Elle is a great role model. She stays true to who she is. She looks like she hasn’t got a care in the world but she gets judged a lot and she has to overcome that, which she does.”
Joining Durack on stage is Rob Mills as bad boyfriend Warner, David Harris as Elle’s lawyer love interest Emmett and Cameron Daddo as sleazy Professor Callahan.
“It is very nice for us to know the show has done well overseas but that’s not a guarantee of success here. You never know what Australian audiences are going to respond to,” Durack says.
For now, she must get back to rehearsals. They are in the middle of practising the infamous ‘bend and snap’. “It is one of my favourite scenes,” she says. “We are really having a lot of fun with the whole thing. I think it is going to be a great show.”
Lizzie Franks is editor of The Equity Magazine. Legally Blonde the Musical is now playing at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney