LEGALLY BLONDE, THE MUSICAL Highlights Fun Now thru March 3rd!
This past weekend Diablo Theatre Company’s much anticipated Legally Blonde, the Musical took center stage in a profusion of pink. Originally premiering here in the Bay Area, the show went on to Broadway and saw several million dollar weeks. Diablo Theatre Company scored a coup when they got Broadway star Bailey Hanks to play the queen of pink, Elle Woods.
A little recap: Delta Nu sorority sister, Elle, is not used to taking no for an answer so when Harvard-bound boyfriend Warner (the gorgeous Frankie Mulcahy) dumps her to find someone “serious,” Elle puts down the credit cards, hits the books, and sets out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before: Harvard Law. She enrolls to win him back but in the process discovers that maybe he seriously is not for her. Elle and the girls of Delta Nu Sorority go from college glam to courtroom chic now thru March 10th at Walnut Creek’s Dean Lesher Theatre. Hodges and Hodges were there opening night and have the whole pink scoop for you.
Nick, let’s set the stage by talking about the energy of the show. It was definitely high.
My favorite ensemble piece was “There! Right There!” The whole number, widely known as “Gay or European” was spectacular. You could tell that every person on that stage was psyched to be there and performances by Alex Rodriguez (Nikos) and Sean Libiran (Carlos), who played the gay couple, were amazing.
That was spectacular and bold. The local cast was fantastic and provided strong support for Broadway’s Bailey Hanks.
Bailey Hanks was really good, but just that; really good. She played the emotional scenes fantastically, especially when professor Callahan (Tom Reardon) pulls rank over her. She has amazing comedic timing, but lost some of her “pink aura” during the large power numbers which are critical to the show. During her scenes you can tell that her own kind personality is coming through as Elle. As cast mate Ian Leonard, who plays Emmett Forrest, said, “She’s salt of the earth, genuine, no ego, just fantastic.” This shows through and you really feel that she gets the kindness and strength of Elle.
I thought Hanks was especially good at showing the growth that Elle goes through. Her metamorphosis from thoroughly blonde to legally blonde was gradual and believable. And, for being on stage in virtually every scene, she never missed a beat – even with costume designer Tammy Berlin’s fast changes. What did you think of the set design?
The Delta Nu sorority house looked like it might have been decorated by the Delta Nu’s themselves. It totally reminded me of Greek life.
I was worried about the staircase that didn’t connect with the rest of the set. There was a gap that they had to walk over.
I’ve worked on stage crew and it’s hard to move such a massive set piece swiftly and precisely. I think that was just an opening night glitch. But the Harvard Law set needs to be fixed. It had visible gaps where the paneling didn’t quite reach the floor. The audience could see the band members and cheer leader’s feet underneath while they were waiting for their cue to go on stage. Not good.
This show definitely had some technical difficulties on opening night, especially with the sound. And I would have liked to have seen a few more spotlights used on strategic characters, for example, Grandmaster Chad.
During “What You Want” Grandmaster Chad, played by Michael Scott Wells, had great articulation and character. The microphone didn’t do him any justice though. The Frat boys and Delta Nu’s all had great body movement and energy in that number. Choreography by Renee DeWeese and Gia Solari was spectacular.
I agree. My favorite character was hairdresser Paulette, played by the marvelous Lynda DiVito. She couldn’t have been better. She was funny and sincere and she can belt. She had the audience laughing in all of her scenes and her rendition of “Ireland” and the Irish jig with sexy delivery man Kyle (Ted Curry) were worth the price of admission.
Brooke Wyndam, played by Mary Kalita, had one of my favorite moments in the show. Professor Callahan has chosen Elle to be on Brooke’s defense team. Brooke stands accused of murdering her husband. She and Elle discover that they are sorority sisters. Doing the secret Delta Nu finger snap they sing “Who has a bond as strong as crazy glue? …Delta Nu, Nu, Nu/ Delta Nu, Nu, Nu/ you are a Delta Nu.” This bond leads Brooke to make Elle the head of her defense team and she fires Callahan.
Also on the team is Vivienne Kensington, played by Brenna Wahl, who does an amazing belt in the finale. This show has a very strong supporting cast. Director Gia Solari did a great job. The ebb and flow – the highs and lows, everything worked.
Tom Reardon’s Professor Callahan was spot on in “Blood In The Water.” He was very suave and a true shark. But for being a Harvard law professor, I thought his accent could have been more upscale Bostonian. But that’s a small quibble.
All in all it was a fun show, but the technical aspects marred the magic for me.
Knowing that the Lesher only gives five days for rehearsal in the actual space may account for some of it, but as Brooke Wyndam says, “What does not kill us makes us hotter!” I believe that if the sound issues are resolved then this show will be on fire and I, for one, am going to go see it again!
Legally Blonde, The Musical
Now thru March 3
Diablo Theatre Company
Director: Gia Solari
Choreographers: Gia Solari & Renee DeWeese
Musical Director: Sean Kana
Photo Courtesy of Ben Krantz Photography