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BWW Review: LEGALLY BLONDE is a Fabulously Fun Musical at Cortland Repertory Theatre

BWW Review: LEGALLY BLONDE is a Fabulously Fun Musical at Cortland Repertory Theatre
The company of the Cortland Repretory Theatre production of
Legally Blonde.
Photo courtesy of the production.

Omigod you guys! Cortland Repertory Theatre is now entertaining audiences with the super-fun musical comedy Legally Blonde at their picturesque summer location at the Little York Pavilion in Preble, New York. It is a fabulously fun musical directed by Trey Compton and a wonderful summer treat covered in pink sprinkles for the summer.

The musical features music and lyrics by Laurence O-Keefe and Nell Benjamin along with a book by Heather Hach. The music is catchy and most of it sounds the same throughout the entire musical. You can bet the lyrics will play repeatedly in your head even after the show is finished. The musical is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film of the same name starring Reese Witherspoon.

The story of course follows Elle Woods (Lara Hayhurst) the President of the Delta Nu UCLA Sorority as she seriously prepares to win back her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Kennedy Salters), by enrolling in Harvard Law School where he is now attending with his preppy girlfriend Vivienne Kensington (Madeline Hudelson). Harvard Law School seems to be the first place where Elle does not naturally fit in. She is judged on her looks and that is about it. However, Elle stays true to herself and finds things that make her different from the rest of the students is what in fact will make her a great future lawyer. With the help of her Greek chorus cheering her on and Emmett Forrest (Woody Minshew) a law-teaching assistant, Elle studies law with great determination. Her love for helping others and her knowledge of law seem to be just the thing needed when she defends Brooke Wyndham (Caitlin Lester-Sams) a fitness guru and sorority sister at a murder trial. Elle surprises everyone, including herself, as she successfully wins the case by being herself dressed in her signature color (costume design Jennifer Dasher), full of knowledge, and sparkling with confidence.

Shelley-Barish's simplistic scenic design allows for easy scene changes as we follow Elle from her sorority house, to date night with Warner, and then to Harvard. There were a few scene pieces that were not moved in a timely fashion by the cast, but this will most likely flow a lot easier as more performances continue. Eric Behnke's lighting design was effective. Led by musical conductor Jacob Carll, the show features some lively musical numbers energetically played by the eight musicians just off downstage right, hidden behind a curtain. Unfortunately, at times the instrumentalists overpowered the performers on stage. However, the sound (Cory Kosman) was fine for the dialogue.

The entire cast seems to be having a blast on stage as they present this high energy musical. Matthew Couvillon's choreography is a highlight in the production especially during "Whipped Into Shape" a number that features jump ropes as part of the choreography and this cast pulls it off as they belt their hearts out. It is an amusing musical and the entire cast seems to be enjoying themselves as they perform the silly yet entertaining songs as they dazzle with flips, splits, and the favorite bend and snap. The chemistry and energy that exists in the entire cast makes this a great production.

Lara Hayhurst entertains as Elle Woods, she did take some time to come into the role, but she charms nonetheless as you can't help but root for Elle Woods. Hayhurst makes the role her own and that is much appreciated. Her spunk, chemistry, and confidence are a highlight as she captures the familiar blonde role (wig design Christopher Patrick). Some of her standout moments include numbers such as "So Much Better," "Take it Like a Man," "Legally Blonde," and "Find My Way." Hayhurst appears in the production as courtesy of Actors Equity Association.

Woody Minshew's vocals as Emmett Forrest are a definite standout in the production. "Chip on My Shoulder" showcases his stellar skills as well as "Take It Like a Man." Minshew's line delivery, vocals, and chemistry are top-notch in the role.

The memorable Kennedy Salters has the pipes and comedic skills to take on the role of Paulette. She brings down the house in "Bend and Snap" and delivers a passionate rendition on "Ireland." Steven Martella as Kyle the UPS delivery guy entertains as well in the number alongside Salters as they, and the rest of the ensemble, go all Riverdance. Salters and Martella certainly have comedic chemistry and bring the laughs.

Other standouts include Greg Bostwick as Professor Callahan in "Blood in the Water" performing the role with precise perfection. Caitlin Lester-Sams impressive vocals dazzle in the Act II opening number "Whipped Into Shape" as Brooke Wyndham. Elle's Greek chorus popping in and out throughout the musical are a highlight as Angela Syrett portrays Serena, Leyla Ali plays Pilar, and Aiden Ankli captures Margot with all the comedic and peppy energy needed for these character roles in numerous scenes. Jeffrey Keller captures Warner's selfish egotistical personality perfectly in "Serious."

Other entertaining onstage moments include the court scene with the number "There! Right! There!" as Blake Maxweel portrays Nikos and Christian Henry entertains as Carlos while the rest of the ensemble perform the catchy tune. "The Harvard Variations" prove to be standout out number as it showcases some memorable talent including Joh Neurohr as Aaron, Usman Ali Ishaq as Sundeep, and Erica Wilpon's killer vocals as Enid. "Omigod You Guys" is a silly fun song that will leave you smiling and will play continually in your head, a definite fun and fabulous number.

Those in the ensemble that often stood out due to their energy, passion, and expressions in various roles include - J T Tully, Shealyn Kelley, Emily Britt, and Alexis Yard. Also, we can't forget the audience favorite Bruiser where the adorable chihuahua Ricky steals the spotlight in the role.

Cortland Repertory Theatre's summer production of Legally Blonde featuring a diverse cast of local actors, college-age student actors, members of CRT's Performing Intern Company, an equity actor, and some professional actors make this a truly entertaining production. The comedy, the chemistry, the choreography, and the charming vocals make this the perfect fun night out at the theater for the summer.

Running time: Approximately two hours and twenty minutes with one fifteen-minute intermission.

Legally Blonde runs from June 19, 2019 through July 6, 2019 as part of the 2019 Summer Theatre season at Cortland Repertory Theatre located at the Little York Pavilion at 6799 Little York Lake Road, Preble, New York. For tickets and information on this production and upcoming productions call the box office at 607-756-2627, or click here.

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From This Author Natasha Ashley