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Legally Blonde Musical, first preview reactions

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legallyblondemusical
Stand-by
joined:1/22/07
Stand-by | Joined: 1/22/07
Just got in from the first preview, possible spoilers abound, going off the top of my head...

Overall good show, needs some song rewrites and some tightening but I would say it's easily fixed and has the potential for great box office success. As expected it is very positive and uplifting and full of humour. You can tell early on that they know they cannot take themselves too seriously and the audience is in on this.

The material they were working with was not that compelling to begin with so I can understand how it would be difficult to base a touching story off of it but the book isn't bad and I think the story flows well. It's not anything that is gonna tug at your heart strings or change your life but it's a fun night out.

There is such great diversity in the musical numbers which is very refreshing. There are some pretty strong numbers and some very weak ones which need to be removed or seriously tweaked.

The first of those troubling numbers comes toward the middle of the first act, Michael Rupert (Professor Callahan) has a number in his classroom called "Blood in the Water" where he is telling his students about how cutthroat this business of being a lawyer is. This song is bad and needs to be replaced. Overall I was disappointed in what Michael Rupert had to work with and it made him look weak. There was a noticeable calm during curtain call when he came forward.

The second number that stands out, in a bad way, is "Chip on My Shoulder" it starts as an exchange between Elle and Emmett and never seems to go away. It comes and goes in bits and pieces, intertwined with dialogue for about 15 to 20 minutes. It's hard to put a finger on exactly what it is I didn't like about the song but it just seems poorly written, dull, repetitive and ineffective. It serves as a good transition and connection device so something needs to be there I'm just hoping this one can get reworked.

The last song on my mind is at the open of the second act. Titled "Whipped Into Shape" it serves as an introduction to the Brook Wyndham character who is a fitness instructor and will be the legal team's client for the second act. It is a mostly upbeat number with some great jump rope tricks and choreography. It too seemed a bit dragged out and it could use some tightening. Of the 3 I mentioned it is probably in the best shape but it wasn't the best number to open the act with.

Numbers that stand out as winners are the opening number "Omigod You Guys", "Ireland" (although I'll talk about that when I get to Orfeh) and "Take It Like a Man".

The choreography which was very good. I guess that was to be expected with a director/choreographer but I was really impressed here with the variety and abilities of the cast.

Laura Bell Bundy was amazing, her voice was in great form and she really had the moves down.

Orfeh is really a standout and one of her numbers "Ireland" needs tweaking to show her strengths. It ends on a joke just when I was hoping they would give her room to blow us away. This happens several times with her numbers, I'm not sure why they feel like they can't let her fly. That said she has plenty of stage time.

Christian Borle was great, he is such a likeable guy with an amazing voice, perfect casting.

Both Richard Blake and Kate Shindle have rather small roles, especially Kate. Watching Richard sometimes made me feel like I was watching Nick Lachey on stage and maybe that is good for this role. He has one song, "Serious", early on but just pops in and out through the rest of the show.

Kate Shindle, I didn't like much at first, she just didn't sell it for me. I thought her acting was stiff, mannequin-like, but then I warmed to her some as the show went on. Again, like Richard it's hard to tell if this is the character or just weakness on her part. I feel bad to say it but you could have replaced her with someone else and I wouldn't notice.

Adding to what I said earlier Michael Rupert just didn't connect with the character for me. Another role where you could have swapped someone else in and I probably wouldn't notice. It was like watching an average Billy Flynn.

The 3 main sorority sisters Leslie Kritzer, Annaleigh Ashford, and DeQuinna Moore (love her) are great. They each have their own distinct personality and it's fun to have them join in throughout the show.

The scenery and lighting were great. There are sooo many set pieces but they all work well together. Technically all went well except for some obvious sound/mic issues which will be easily fixed. I was a little surprised and disappointed, honestly, that no one from the production came on stage to welcome/invite as they usually do in first previews.

That's pretty much all I have in my head for now, maybe more later. I am excited to see it develop here in SF and I'm looking forward to see what changes we see come opening night. I will be revisiting the show a week from today and then again the following Tuesday which is opening night.
http://www.talkinbroadway.com/allthatchat/d.php?id=356387
Updated On: 1/24/07 at 02:38 AM
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MrBundles
Broadway Star
joined:7/29/05
Broadway Star | Joined: 7/29/05
thanks for posting...interesting...For anyone who has seen it, any reviews on Kate Shindle?
Your fupa is showing.
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carymetorent2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/16/05
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/16/05
How was Kate Shindle and Richard Blake?
Do they have a lot of stage time?

And was there anything really impressive about the set? i've heard great things about it!
"Less Of A Marilyn, More Of A Jackie" www.richardhblake.com
jimnysf
Broadway Legend
joined:9/10/05
Broadway Legend | Joined: 9/10/05
Since this was the first performance, I won't say too much or be too critical as I expect that there will be changes by the time this show opens in NYC. One thing I will say is that "Omigod You Guys" was sung THREE TIMES which is three too many for me! I agree that "Blood in the Water" should go the way of "Which Way's The Party?" (Cut from the SF "Wicked tryout).

Richard is on stage a lot but only gets one song and has zero dances He sings background in a lot of the songs. I think they should give him more to sing. Kate Shindel was very good, especially in "Legally Blonde Remix" (which was my favorite song in the show). Another standout (besides Richard, Orfeh and Andy) was Manuel Herrera who was very funny in the courtroom scene.

"I've lost everything! Luis, Marty, my baby with Chris, Chris himself, James. All I ever wanted was love." --Sheridan Crane "Passions" ------- "Housework is like bad sex. Every time I do it, I swear I'll never do it again til the next time company comes."--"Lulu" from "Can't Stop The Music" ----- "When the right doors didn't open for him, he went through the wrong ones" - "Sweet Bird of Youth" ------------ --------- "Passions" is uncancelled! See NBC.com for more info.
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carymetorent2
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joined:2/16/05
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/16/05
Jim, can I Just say that I love that your avatar is from "passions" - it's Miguel and Fox, right?

I was waiting to hear about Richard and Kate. Sad that Richard only has one song. He is underused in shows, but it's great that he is on stage a lot.
"Less Of A Marilyn, More Of A Jackie" www.richardhblake.com
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Al Dente
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joined:7/22/03
Broadway Legend | Joined: 7/22/03
As promised, I made it to San Francisco for the first performance of "Legally Blonde." Is it fun? Yeah, a lot of time. Is it a mess? Yeah, a lot of the time! For the latter I mostly blame Jerry Mitchell, who shows us what we already suspected--that he can stage a really peppy dance number but can't guide an entire multi-million dollar production by himself. Someone call Jack O'Brien in the morning!

Okay--let me focus on the fun a little. Obviously I've been a fan of Orfeh's for a long time so I was excited to see her back in a big show. She exceeded even my expectations--she was radiant and stunning and in great voice and got to sing both a ballad and a showstopping rap song! Andy Karl (her husband as if you didn't know) also does a hilarious reggae rap that reminded me of his "Altar Boyz" days but mostly plays the UPS delivery guy and gets a big response in his brown shorts!

The rest of the cast was a mixed bag. Laura Bell Bundy looked good and danced well but might not have the acting chops to carry the show (for now, she comes off like the ultimate understudy). We'll see. Christian Borle isn't as funny as you'd expect. At least not yet. Michael Rupert didn't have the command as Callahan that Victor Garber did in the movie. Kate Shindle is good enough as Vivienne but it's a tiny part. In other small roles, I liked Manuel Herrera, DeQuina Moore, Noah Weisberg and Kevin Pariseau. Oh, and Mitchell cast a bunch of hot guys in the ensemble and does the obvious by making them run across the stage with their shirts off at one point. Jerry, Broadway Bares is in June.

Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe have written a fun but slight score that will probably be attacked by most for being too Top 40-ish like "The Wedding Singer." Heather Hach needs to write some funny jokes and fix the last 20 minutes of the show, which meander.

David Rockwell has made sets that will remind many of his work on "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," which means that although there is still much cleverness at work, it seems very minimilistic and even bare at times. I think Gregg Barnes had a hard job in making such modern and stylish clothes for the characters and mostly succeeds. But boy, is there a lot of pastels!

I need to get to bed as I have a meeting in the morning but if anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask!


Updated On: 1/24/07 at 03:07 AM
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carymetorent2
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joined:2/16/05
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/16/05
It is making me sad to see that Richard again doesn't do much when we all know just how talented he is.
"Less Of A Marilyn, More Of A Jackie" www.richardhblake.com
shesamarshmallow
Broadway Legend
joined:3/23/06
Broadway Legend | Joined: 3/23/06
I thought the second half of this show would be hard to musicalize. All the courtroom scenes and random episodes seemed less suited for song and dance numbers than the first half. But I HATED the first forty minutes with such a depressing passion that I was beginning to worry that I'd jinxed the show by reading Not Since Carrie on the BART ride here. Luckily, it got better as it went along. It's never going to be a masterpiece (or Tony-nominated, I think), but with some work, it could be good.

The good:
- Laura Bell Bundy rises to the task of Elle.
- I love the more developed relationship between Elle & Emmett. This was helped by the fact that Laura Bell Bundy and Christian Borle were pretty fabulous. (For fairness, I have to say that in intermission the two ladies behind me hated that Emmett helped her so much since it took away from the movie's message of an independent woman. I'm the most chauvanistic a female could be, so I didn't care. Plus, they make up for it at the end. Honestly, I was just happy for more Christian Borle stage time.)
- The three songs from the demo, the title song and "There! Right There!" (which is a total Dance Ten, Looks Three song in that it would give away the joke to give the real title in the program).
- How the hell can Nikki Snelson sing and jump rope at the same time??? Apparently that's not physically impossible.
- Kyle's theme music.
- Giving Orfeh the first verse of the finale.

The bad:
- Leslie Kristzer looks about twenty years too old for her role.
- "Serious", the second song, was definitely the worst song I'd heard in years. (For fairness' sake again, the ladies behind me singled that song out in intermission as one of their favorites.)
- Most of the score, in fact, is not that great. "What You Want" definitely has to be rewritten and most of the songs in the first act are just plain forgettable. I had to refer to my program just to remember that they're forgettable. (And the ladies behind me, for the last time, loved the first forty minutes but thought the end of the first act was slow and boring.)
- I missed the fat and slightly retarded male character from the movie. Yeah, I said it. He gave Elle pathos that Bell Bundy luckily manages to portray before her big emotional number without the writers making it quite so explicit. Instead we got more Enid, which mostly provided the book with more lesbian jokes. Yay? No.
- Laura Bell Bundy's bend and snap needs serious work. Either that, or they have to give her a costume in that scene that's less restrictive.
- I wanted so much more from the staging. It's just not all that inspired. (Sorry, Jerry Mitchell. I still love you!) And while some of the sets work nicely (especially the exteriors of Harvard, though those scenes were mostly dull which is why I looked at the sets...), too often in the show the stage is almost completely bare.

Other things to mention:
- Yes, they have merchandise. Lots of it - posters, shirts, hats, pants with "omigod" printed on the butt. I can't count the number of people who bought posters before the show started.
- Laura Bell Bundy got a standing o. She deserved it, she carried this show.
- It's really fun to play "Spot Andy Karl" in the first act. Otherwise, if you get bored, just look at Christian Borle or Laura Bell Bundy's face when they're in the background/ensemble. Bundy was the only thing that stopped me from wincing in pain from "Bend and Snap".
- I got to the BART station two blocks away after shortly stage-dooring (Christian was the first to come out, and though I'd love to have met everyone else, I have to be up early tomorrow) at about 11:01. So I'd estimate run time at about 2:40 with a fifteen minute intermission.
- The curtain is a chain in the subtle shape of a heart (with a lobster clasp, the ladies behind me mention) with a charm reading "Elle Woods" on pink flowy silk.

"Blood in the Water" had some good moments, but I think Callahan has to be more menacing in the delivery. It just seemed weak. And I kind of loved "Chip on Your Shoulder", but what can I say, I'm a total romantic.

And I've always hated everyone's inevitable comparisons to The Wedding Singer, but it's actually warranted here. Assume that your opinions about both will be the same.
I think, for me, it's about a 6/10 now for pure enjoyment, with potential to get to 7 with a lot of work. The results are a little less kind when not judging objectively. Good luck to the cast, as they're all enjoying themselves and it showed in their performances. But I definitely won't be seeing it again unless they institute a student rush policy.

Al Dente - did I totally miss the part where Orfeh rapped?

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Updated On: 1/24/07 at 03:19 AM
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Al Dente
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Yeah, I guess you did miss it--right before she burst into her crazy singing in "Bend and Snap." Did you miss the whole part after the guys go, "Whoa"? That's called rapping, unless you prefer "chanting." And by the way, I disagree with you wildly regarding Laura Bell Bundy and Christian Borle. And I'll bank on the critics agreeing with me.
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millie_dillmount
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joined:4/22/04
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"for now, she comes off like the ultimate understudy"

I don't know if that's a compliment or not. In that context it almost seems as if being an understudy means they might not have as much talent or not capable of having as much talent as the principal actor/actress hired to do the part. Sometimes the understudy is much better!
"We like to snark around here. Sometimes we actually talk about theater...but we try not to let that get in our way." - dramamama611
shesamarshmallow
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joined:3/23/06
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I'm sure the critics will hate them too, there's no need to be rude.

I kind of zoned out during "Bend and Snap", so yes. That song was awful. It was at that point that I completely rejected the hitherto harmless idea of the greek chorus. Don't get me wrong, Orfeh was fabulous, but I wish her material was better. Her rapping is somewhat like Norbert's in "Great Big Stuff" which just... isn't rapping to me. But that's probably just a semantics thing on my part.
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LizzieCurry
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"This thread reads like a series of White House memos." — Mister Matt
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Al Dente
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I didn't use the word "hate" re: the critics!

Oh, and I do consider what Norbert did to be rapping as well so yes, we do just disagree!
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EugLoven
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SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Article with Photos
A smarter shade of blond
Laura Bell Bundy a no-brainer as Elle Woods in 'Legally Blonde,' opening in San Francisco

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/01/23/DDGVONLT6S1.DTL
Updated On: 1/24/07 at 04:12 AM
shesamarshmallow
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joined:3/23/06
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I get into semantics fights a lot. It's very silly, really.

A few more thoughts before I crash - I hated Elle's admission essay, and the "Love, what about love" theme that shows up about ten times in the show needs to be scaled back a lot. For those confused by the marching band uniform from the Going Blonde costume feature, I have to join you in that sad emotion. That whole scene was a mess. Who lets a girl into law school because they think they're in love with some dude? The movie did it much better.

Does anyone has any idea what I recognize Annaleigh Ashford from? Her bio lists hardly anything.
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feinstein9
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joined:5/20/03
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>>Leslie Kritzer [sic] looks about twenty years too old for her role.

dude she's only 29... does she really look that out of place?
broadwaybaby086
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Annaleigh toured in Wicked as an understudy for Glinda, I believe. Also, she was in the most recent NYMF staging of Feeling Electric.
"I'll cut you, Tracee Beazer!!!! ...Just kidding. I'd never cut anyone." -Tina Maddigan, 9/30/06, WS stage door
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friedrichVT
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Leslie is very talented, and gets to shine in the beginning of act 2. However,she does look a little out of place as a Delta Nu.
Updated On: 1/24/07 at 06:02 AM
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snowie862
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.
Updated On: 5/12/07 at 06:18 AM
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jacobsnchz14
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Can you list all of the musical numbers?? Do you know when the Original Broadway Cast Recording comes out? I suspect a week or two after the premiere in April.
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HumATune
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Okay now that I’ve had some much-needed sleep (I am NOT a night person) here are my thoughts:

I really liked it. It’s fluff yes, but good fluff. By that I mean it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s nothing worse than a fluffy show that tries to disguise itself as something serious.

My time is limited at the moment (gotta get ready for the first day of classes, yo!) so just some quick thoughts for now. A more detailed review will come later.

I’m not sure if this is due to Richard Blake or the book of the show, but Warner, while still a jerk, comes off more sympathetically in the musical. I haven’t seen the movie in a while (on purpose) so I don’t remember what was in it exactly, but in the musical there are lines where he defiantly expresses that he HAS to dump Elle, marry the “right” woman, and become a lawyer. And in this version he actually “quits” in the “where are they now” segment instead of “getting no job offers”. I’ll talk more about the cast later today.

I felt bad for Michel Rupert because they gave him the third-to-last bow and the applause definitely died down. I thought he did a good job with what he was given, but yeah his big “Blood in the Water” song does suck. I also don’t think the Callahan character warrants that bow, and it should go to the Paulette character (Orfeh). Right now Callahan is in the same position as the Wizard in Wicked: too high of a bow higher probably due to who is playing in the character. This is defiantly one of the roles where they would put a “name” in the part if they stunt cast.

That’s all for now. More later!
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jacobsnchz14
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Can you list all of the musical numbers?? Do you know when the Original Broadway Cast Recording comes out? I suspect a week or two after the premiere in April.
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snowie862
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jimnysf

Musical Numbers on 1/23/07 as listed in the Playbill

Act One

OMIGOD YOU GUYS
SERIOUS (Warner, Elle)
Daughter of Delta Nu
What You Want
The Harvard Variations
Blood In the Water
Love and War
Ireland
Ireland (reprise)
Serious (reprise)
Chip On My Shoulder
So Much Better

Act 2

Whipped Into Shape
Take It Like A Man
Bend and Snap
There! Right There!
Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde Remix
OMIGOD YOU GUYS (reprise)
Find My Way/Finale
OMIGOD YOU GUYS (oy vey...the third time!)
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biggest CHENO fan
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are there newspaper reviews out? if so, could someone please link it?
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Al Dente
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HumATune, thanks for mentioning the Warner changes. I meant to talk about how much I didn't like him going out so sympathetically in the musical. I love in the movie when you get to boo at him in the end! And yes, Orfeh definitely needs a better curtain call!