BWW Review: LEGALLY BLONDE at The Belmont Theatre
Review by Jason Davis
OMG! IMO Legally Blonde the Musical at Belmont Theatre is high energy, positively pink, and totally LOL. With their stage production ability rivaling any professional theatre, the Belmont in York has put together another high-quality event.
After being left by her college boyfriend, Elle Woods (Faith Brown) is determined to win him back. So determined, in fact, that she decides to follow him to law school. So how does a seemingly ditzy sorority girl get into Harvard? With plenty of pink sparkle! Elle's journey to reunite with Warner Huntington III (Wesley Hemmann) creates life-changing challenges and fantastic dance sequences.
It seems appropriate that a story honoring the courage and strength of women is dominated by its female cast members. From the very first number, it is evident that director Rene Staub assembled a team of talented individuals. Aided by the sassy fun choreography of Sarah Flynn, the musical numbers with their fabulous lyrics and infectious energy had audience members laughing, smiling, and bopping along.Brown's portrayal of Elle appears effortless (even with a wig that is a bit distracting) as she switches from college sorority girl to serious (well, semi-serious) law student. While Brown's sorority girl is less effective than her law student, she brings immense talent in every aspect of this character. In scenes where Brown is joined by her backup dancers (a Greek chorus of her own imagination) the talent of this ensemble shines. In a fit of desperation and driven to be taken more seriously, Elle decides to color her signature blonde hair but is talked out of it by a hairdresser, Paulette (Emily Falvey-Smith), who nearly steals the show. Falvey-Smith's portrayal of the wacky hairdresser is spot-on and probably the most solid performance of the night. Her physical comedy and playful interactions with the UPS man (Konstantine James), another stand out performer, is matched only by her powerful singing voice. Other memorable cast members include the two male leads. Hemmann's Warner could be more arrogant and a bit less likable. The viewer wants to say to themselves, "Why is she chasing this guy?" and instead we kinda like the guy. For me, it's Hemmann's vocals that sold me. His lovely tone and intonation set him apart. Sean Bennett plays Emmet Forrest, the hard-working average joe classmate who helps Elle find herself and new love. Bennett's Emmet is relatable, likable, and just what you want in Elle's new love interest. The show could not be as successful without the spectacularly designed and implemented set changes. Using a combination of screens, projection, and physical sets the actors were able to seamlessly move from one location to another without leaving the stage. This technique prevented stalls in the action and helped keep this high energy show moving right along. Finding enough talented male cast members to fill out such a large ensemble is challenging. This is made all the more difficult when the women set such a high bar. To their credit, the men made valiant efforts to keep up and complement these strong women. Overall, a great night leaving most audience members ROFL! For more information about this and other performances, visit https://www.thebelmont.org/