BWW Reviews: Wavestage's LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL
When you think pink, law, and music, it's hard to not think of LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL, the show based on the modern classic film of the same name starring Reese Witherspoon. The musical adaptation of the story features just as much sass and quirkiness, but just a little bit more singing and dancing. Wavestage staged a their own production of the much loved musical at the beautiful Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts which ran from Thursday, July 10, to Sunday, July 13.
LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL follows Elle Woods, a beach blonde out of Malibu, who gets into Harvard to chase the love of her life, only to learn a thing or two about people, justice, and keeping your word. Wavestage's production of the show stayed true to the story's narrative, heartwarming morals, and its quirky tone.
Wavestage, which stages four mainstage productions every season in York Region theatres, has staged shows like HAIR, and continues to display incredible talent both on stage and off. This production of LEGALLY BLONDE had the audience chuckling, engrossed, and surprised.
Although the beginning portion of Wavestage's LEGALLY BLONDE was underwhelming for a show so full of excitement, the tone of the show and the actors enthusiasm built as the show went on, as Elle's story progressed. Fortunately, this almost seems to fit the story. Wavestage's Elle Woods, Rhiannon Kyle, had a progression similar to her character as the show went on. While Kyle was slightly drawn back and hesitant when the show started, as the show went on she displayed more and more confidence, showing off her impressive acting chops. Kyle's line delivery and comedic time was spot on, over shining her vocals. However, this worked to Kyle's advantage, as she was able to deliver Elle's speak-sing style with perfect sarcasm, sass, and comedy. On the flip side, Kyle also managed to nail the more dramatic scenes.
The cast was strong overall, as everyone in Elle's circle. from Paulette, to Kyle, to Emmet, to Elle's group of girlfriends were full of life, eliciting laughs from the audience with every scene. Everyone's chemistry was impressive, especially from such a young cast. Every actor and actress seemed to play off of one another effortlessly, whether the scene be comedic or more serious. In particular, Kyle's on stage chemistry with Mandy McDonald, who played Paulette, was perfect. The pair created a comedy and friendship between the two perfectly onstage.
McDonald hands down was the best at personifying her character, as everything about her screamed Paulette. From her accent, to her mannerisms, to her sass, to her insecurity, McDonald nailed everything. Her performance suggested a lot of research, practice, and dedication to the role, and it was prevalent in the quality of her performance. McDonald's performance of "Ireland," Paulette's big solo, brought the house down and elicited the most positive reaction from the cast.
Alongside McDonald, the one other scene-stealer of this cast was Chris Vergara. Vergara, who played Elle's love interest who she doesn't realize is an interest, Emmett Forrest. Vergara was the strongest of the already strong cast. He stole every scene he was in with his flair for comedy and sarcasm. While funny lines do not always elicit the intended reaction from an audience, every one of Vergara's one-liners resulted in a roar of laughter from the audience. His flair for comedy was only complimented by his incredible voice and his ability to turn around and emotionally drain you in a more serious scene. Hands down, Vergara was the most well rounded of the cast members, as he flourished in his acting and his singing.
A notable mention must go to Melissa Lemme who played innocent suspect Brooke Wyndham who Elle was trying to get off the hook. Lemme belted out the shows most fun and exciting tune, "Whipped into Shape" with epic vocals and incredible choreography. It's hard to not be out of breath after witnessing this number, which was complete with an intricate dance routine with skipping ropes.
Although Lemme's performance stopped with show, garnering hoots and howls from the audience, Gord Peters, who played the ruthless and brilliant Professor Callahan, was the first actor to command attention when he walked onto stage. Clearly with acting experience behind him, Peters delivered the tune "Blood in the Water" with the perfect balance of humour and intimidation.
On the note of performance highlights, while Elle's big solo "So Much Better" fell slightly short, the show was redeemed by the unintended show stopping performance of "Gay or European." The song was performed with the perfect comedy, sarcasm, hesitancy and attitude. The song was incredibly well received by the audience, and marked the point in the show when spectators finally felt immersed in the show and its heart-warming story.
Although Wavestage's LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL was a little rough around the edges, once the cast got comfortable in their roles they worked together as an ensemble to tell the modern classic story about a girl who wins the case against all odds.