BWW Review: LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL at Walnut Street Theatre
The verdict is in. It cannot be appealed. The judge (me) and the jury (the wildly appreciative audience) unanimously agree LEGALLY BLONDE: The Musical is a 5 star hit. That is why it's run has been extended after opening weekend.
Yes, it is am escapist's dream. It's frothy, sometimes silly and also wildly entertaining; replete with tight direction, talented actors and superb technical aspects. There can be no prosecutorial dissent on this!
Director/Choreographer Richard Stafford, whose entire career has been about musicals created a tour de force. The jaw dropping inventiveness of choreography in every production number had the full house not only rocking in their seats but in awe at the discipline of his charges.
"Whipped Into Shape", the cardio thumping Act 2 opener had the audience gasping for breath. It was led by the remarkably toned Brooke Wyndham (Sara Brophy) and was a delightful 5-minute jump roping test of stamina. (of course, her character IS a tv fitness guru). Not one dancer missed any of the jump roping routine, remarkable until itself.
"Bend and Snap", a primer on how to get a man, may be on its surface politically incorrect, but was danced with gusto and simply delightful. And how many musicals employ Irish step dancing? This number was executed with such precision that it can draw favorable comparisons to Lord Of The Dance. Dewey the UPS guy (Parker Krug) does a high kick that would impress Michael Flatley. Not only can Krug move his feet but also his butt cheeks. They moved in rhythm like a hypnotist's watch and certainly Paulette was mesmerized.
I loved the dynamics of the court room scene in the movie. This scene translated to the full ensemble number "Gay or European". This is one of the most hilarious production numbers I have ever witnessed. It begins when the respectable, courteous Emmett (Elliot Styles) asked Nikos (Anthony Avino) who his boyfriend is. Nikos says the wrong answer, infuriating his lover Carlos (Adam Mandala). The two actors are drop dead hilarious. (Everyone likes 'silly'). The mayhem cascades from there, as did the laughter resounding like a tsunami through the theatre.
Elle Woods (Kathryn Brunner) first was on The Walnut stage at age 8. Returning as a lead is a good story. Aside from her singing and dancing chops, Brunner, going from Act 1 ditzy sorority blonde to self-assured lawyer in Act 2 is very believable.
Warner (Sean Thompson) has a wonderful singing voice and projects that smarmy cocksuredness reminiscent of the dude in the first DIEHARD who attempts to convince Bruce Willis to surrender. Warner's fate is not quite as severe as what Hans serves up, but he does get his justifiable comeuppance.
The many set changes were fluid and the designs themselves added greatly to the show. The opener at Delta Nu Sorority was a great surprise and achieved its purpose...to capture the audience's attention toute de suite.
Elle's 'sisters' Margot (Adena Ershow), Serena (Caroline Chisholm) and Pilar (Lina Lee) and later, the Greek Chorus that only Elle sees, were terrific dancers. Their collective glee was transmitted to the audience.
The orchestra, under the direction of John Daniels was outstanding...and busy! There are 22 tunes.
The chihuahua Bruiser (real name Frankie) quickly endeared himself. He's done more LEGALLY BLONDE'S than any human actor. Frankie is trained by well-known Bill Berloni. Another of Berloni's pooches starred in BECAUSE OF WYNN DIXIE at Delaware Theatre Company a few seasons ago.
The show has been extended til July 21. I can see why!