BWW Reviews: LEGALLY BLONDE - Grand's High School Project Goes Blonde
Legally Blonde, on stage at London's Grand Theatre, marks the 15th anniversary of their High School Project. Each year for the past 15, the Grand has mounted a full-scale musical with high school students as the cast and crew. The students get all the advantages of working in a professional theatre setting, with Artistic Director Susan Ferley directing the show.
Legally Blonde is the perfect campy musical for a group of high school students. Based on the 2001 movie, the musical goes even further over-the-top. The students of the High School Project fill the roles well.
Elle Woods (Sophia Noguera) has been dumped by her boyfriend Warner (Josh Van Belois) because he's off to Harvard Law School, and she isn't "serious" enough for him. Elle decides to chase after him and win him back, so she studies hard and gets into Harvard Law, despite having only a college diploma in fashion. Once there, she learns of Warner's engagement to the very serious Vivienne (Alex Grant), but Elle persists, making friends with a mentor, the affable Emmett (Jake Schindler). At first, Elle is scorned by the other law students, including the tough Enid (Cosette Pin). But when she finally sees Warner for the shallow jerk he is, she decides to study law so that she can help others. After being selected as an intern by slimy Professor Callahan (Joel Kennedy) and winning the case for client Brooke Wyndham (Caitlin McKeon), she earns the others' respect.
Stealing the show in a cute side plot are Natalia Martin as beautician Paulette Buonufonte and Henry Firmston as Kyle, the UPS guy.
In addition, there are eight young women in the Delta Nu Sorority, 15 ensemble cast members and 14 dancers. Credit goes to choreographer Megan Alfano who fills the stage several times with the entire cast in motion. In particular, Act II opens with a fast action jump-rope number, featuring choreographed moves while the dancers skip rope at high speed, earning well-deserved spontaneous applause. The music is cleverly woven into the story, allowing for reggae, rock 'n' roll, and even Irish dance among the show tunes.
The two dogs - Elle's Chihuahua Bruiser and Paulette's pooch Rufus - are audience favourites, eliciting "oohs" and "ahhs". Both acted on cue on opening night, with Rufus showing special talent for giving a high five. The Grand has cast several canines in the parts.
It's a delightful show for young people with many strong messages despite its excessive reach for laughs. "Don't judge a book by its cover" is the main theme and the story tells us to treat everyone equally, regardless of gender, appearance, or sexual orientation. The young cast brings plenty of energy to the stage, providing lots of comedy.
Legally Blonde continues at the Grand Theatre, London until 28. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593 or visit www.grandtheatre.com.
A member of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association, Mary Alderson reviews shows at area theatres and posts blogs at www.entertainthisthought.com .