Legally Blonde Cleans Up at Laurence Olivier Awards: When Will Great Britain Develop a Culture of Its Own?

It sure was embarrassing when The King’s Speech won all those Oscars, right? Even before the statues got handed out, people seemed to have belatedly decided that the movie was earnestly unimportant midlist fare, that nobody took it seriously anymore and it was about four months away from being forgotten entirely. The only thing the movie really had going for it, which was enough to sway dumb Oscar voters, was that it was so very British—so British it was about a monarch, even—and Americans are still insecure colonials at heart, smitten by royalty and sure that any work of art from the old mother country must be impressive and high-quality.

Tonight, the Society of London Theatre announced the winners of the
Laurence Olivier Awards , Britain’s top theater prizes. Among the finest work on the British stage:

Best new musical: Legally Blonde, The Musical

Best actress in a musical: Sheridan Smith—Legally Blonde, The Musical

Best supporting actress in a musical: Jill Halfpenny—Legally Blonde, The Musical.

F-f-f-fancy that! And here are some other hot theatrical productions in London’s West End , in the city where Shakespeare reshaped the possibilities of drama and language:

Chicago the Musical (playing since April 2006)

Dirty Dancing, The Classic Story on Stage (playing since September 2006; closing in July)

Jersey Boys (playing since February 2008)

Million Dollar Quartet (playing since February)

Thriller Live (playing since January 2009)

Wicked (playing since September 2006)

Meanwhile, ads on the red double-decker buses are announcing that Shrek the Musical opens in May. And Ghost the Musical is due to open in June. Yes, Ghost, like the Patrick Swayze movie. (Looks like the Academy Award-winning Whoopi Goldberg part will be played by native Londoner Sharon D. Clarke .)

Yes, that will mean that this coming June, two Patrick Swayze movies will be performed as musicals on the London stage at the same time.