LEGALLY BLONDE, now playing at the New Village Arts, is the theatre version of a perfect summer cocktail. It is effervescent, fun, has a distinctive color (pink, naturally), and is a refreshing respite from the world (and heat) outside.
Based on the 2001 movie of the same name, LEGALLY BLONDE follows the irrepressible Elle Woods who decides to go to Harvard Law school to follow her ex-boyfriend (as you do). While there she learns that there is more to her than just being blonde, overcomes the adversity by winning a trial in her first year of law school, learns the power of finding yourself and your voice, and that “to thyne own self be true” means never giving up your signature pink color.
Yes, it follows all the romantic comedy plot points, but it’s the fun and the vibrancy that helps carry this show through some of its weaker pot points. Any weak spots in the plot are filled with impromptu parades and dance numbers (first act is her personal essay to Harvard, while act two ends up in an Irish step dance to celebrate someone’s Irish heritage), and an important lesson on permed hair maintenance.
Girl power is nice, but since this is a romantic comedy musical she naturally finds that she can have it all and ends up with the man of her dreams who believed in her all along.
Danielle Levas is our perky protagonist as Elle, and she brings a great voice, a bright sense of optimism, and the necessary smarts and steel to make this crazy character work. It also helps that she looks fantastic in Elle’s signature pink (and her pink sparkly shoes in the first act are enviable).
Sittichai Chaiyahat as Emmett is sweet and supportive as the law clerk that helps Elle find her legal footing. Cody Ingram is suitably smug as Warner, Elle’s ex-boyfriend who dumped her to find someone who was “less of a Marilyn, more of a Jackie.”
Cassie Bleher has a strong voice and makes Vivian’s (Warner’s prep school girlfriend) eventual warming to Elle seem believable. Marlene Montes as the quirky and unlucky in love hairstylist Paulette has a great turn with “Ireland”, a ballad devoted to the country, singing it with a romanticized and slightly deluded glory that perfectly fits the character.
Catie Marron as fitness guru Brooke, and the other prisoners deserve all the praise for their jump roping filled song “Whipped Into Shape” (jumping rope is hard enough without having to belt while doing it).
Not to sound too Elle Woods, but mad props to the AVENUE Q alumni Steven Freitas who audiences last saw in this theatre as failed comedian Brian and now condescends as the predatory Professor Callahan. Musical Director Tony Houck who was last seen Nicky and Trekkie leads the shows merry band behind the scenes, and a delightful cameo in the second act (in a short set that is totally AVENUE Q Rod approved).
Cast standouts are Erin Vanderhyde as Kate/Enid, Roma Watkins as Chutney, Allyce as Margot, and Gina Maria Cioffi as Serena. Trevor Rex steals part of the second act as Nikos, the pool boy with an attitude, and is a great dancer as well. Rounding out this talented cast are Joel Miller, Thomas Reasoner, and Molly O’Meara.
Rescue pup Luna Pierce is Bruiser Elle’s beloved Chihuahua (Bubba Sola will substitute some performances, because star turns are difficult). Mr. Monty as Paulette’s pup Rufus is well trained and seemed to really love to spotlight.
Directed by Katherine Kurner the show stays high energy throughout, and never lets the characters become cartoons. The choreography by Kyle Hawk in his professional debut is high energy, athletic, utilizes the entire cast, and uses the small space very smartly.
Any criticisms are quibbles really – this is small stage so it can feel crowded and a bit messy when everyone is on stage at times. Some people seem to be playing younger or older than they are which normally is not an issue but with such close quarters from the seats to the stage it can be a little distracting from the story. Some of the scene and set changes are not as smooth as they could be, but will surely even out as they continue to perform.
Christopher Scott Murillo’s set works great as a backdrop to all these events, enhanced with lighting by Alex Crocker-Lakness, and sound design by TJ Fucella. Samatha Vesco designed costumes are all character appropriate, and look great on the performers.
With an empowering message that you can be yourself, wear whatever color you want, and be as successful as you’re willing to work for, this show is a fun reinforcement that dreams are achievable.
LEGALLY BLONDE may be blonde and bubbly, but then again so is champagne, so sit back and enjoy.
LEGALLY BLONDE is playing at the New Village Arts through September 8th. For ticket and showtime information go t www.newvillagearts.org