BWW Review: LEGALLY BLONDE 'Appeals' to Everyone!
Legally Blonde, which is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the renowned Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture, opened this past Friday at the South Bend Civic Theatre to much buzz and anticipation. As I sat in the audience on Saturday night waiting for the musical to begin, all around me I was hearing that this is "the best musical at SBCT in a while."
With such amazing praise from my thespian peers, I was ready to be amazed. When the musical began however, it was pretty rocky. From the very start, the first few lines were barely audible, with the mic feed going in and out. It was remedied for a few minutes by the amazing gusto of powerful voices from the ensemble but then went back to both the singing voices and speaking voices being barely audible for most of the entire first act. There was also a weird ebb and flow of sound; sometimes the ensemble was so powerful with their singing that you couldn't hear any of the protagonists either sing nor speak, sometimes the ensemble was low but the mic's were also out and it was hard to hear anything at all, leaving an awkward empty feeling on stage. Needless to say, the random levels of what could be heard or couldn't be heard left a very strange feeling that just something was missing from the show.
Things started picking up though with one of the best songs in the entire show, called "Ireland" which is performed by the character Paulette who is played by Andrea C. DeLonis - an absolutely astounding performer. For this song, you could hear DeLonis perfectly, allowing her powerhouse of a voice to be front and center. DeLonis was able to set the show back on track and begin the amazing showcase of talent present but previously hidden on stage. DeLonis was delightful in all aspects of performance; you just walk away feeling like she 'nailed it' every single time she performed. After this song, things started to fall into place more and with certain distractions gone, the show became extremely enjoyable.
The show is simply fun, entertaining, quirky, and kitsch in a good way. The show, through all production elements and casting, is able to capture the essence of the original book and movie. There is pink everywhere, pep, and everything you would expect from over-the-top caricatures from either a sorority or a stuffy prestigious college. It is chock full of amusing little gags and comedic jabs - you can even find real dogs on stage!
The casting of Elle, the titular character who is played by Bailey Krusen (Haseltine), was impeccable and there is not a reaction or hilarious line out of place in her delivery. This, of course, makes sense since Elle is supposed to be almost flawless. Which brings me to my next point; while for the most part Elle is a comical character, there are moments in the play where things take a serious turn- that is where Krusen is most impressive. Krusen is able to tap into Elle's array of emotions, which is an impressive feat where you're attempting to add depth to a character that is simultaneously meant to come off as superficial.
If all else fails, see the show just for Krusen's sheer talent, but she certainly isn't alone in the talent department. The ensemble is constant with their energy and commanding singing voices (when the acoustics allowed); they are perfect in creating and setting the scene from a sorority house all the way to a court house. There are other main characters and minor characters that create the whole package that packs a punch, such as an accent-laden pool boy and a mailman that -- well, you'll see. By the end of the show, I was amazed and it is without a doubt in the running as one of the "best musicals" that SBCT has done.
Legally Blonde runs for two more weekends, and you will definitely want to make time to see it.
Photo Credit: Jon Gilchrist