BWW Reviews: LEGALLY BLONDE Brings Spirited Song and Dance to OSTC
Warwick's Ocean State Theatre Company stages a colorful, campy summertime production with the feature-film-turned-stage-musical, Legally Blonde.
Malibu girl Elle Woods (played by Alyssa Gorgone) is devastated when long-time boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Marc Thomas Koeck) ends their relationship to pursue a "serious" future at Harvard Law. Determined to win Warner back, Elle earns admission to Harvard in her own right and follows him to the east coast, where her bright pink wardrobe and sunny disposition immediately clash with the sedate, overachieving inhabitants of the ivy-covered university.
Elle's adventures (and misadventures) play out in energetic song-and-dance routines woven through the exposition. The songs have catchy, toe-tapping orchestrations and clever lyrics that further develop the storyline. Elle's over-the-top cheerleading routine (presented to Harvard admissions officers in lieu of a personal essay) and exercise maven Brooke Wyndham's enthusiastic jump rope workout are prime examples of the dance choreography's exhausting pace, but the company, under the smart direction of Russell Garrett, never misses a step along the way.
Gorgone brings lots of personality to her portrayal of Elle. She sparkles and glitters, but she maintains an undercurrent of common-sense savvy that belies the superficial trappings of Elle's ultra-blonde persona. Gorgone has a lovely singing voice, great stage presence, and an unflagging spunkiness that carries her from overture to curtain call.
Adam Ryan Tackett plays Emmett Forrest, Elle's first friend at Harvard. Tackett provides a grounding influence, nicely foiling Elle's force-of-nature presence, but he also holds his own both as a well-rounded leading man and in the offhand delivery of several humorous lines.
Harvard-area hairstylist Paulette (Nicole Paloma Sarro) is Elle's other nearest east-coast confidante. Sarro's comic timing - both physical and verbal - is spot on, and she manages to steal the spotlight each and every time she steps on stage.
Koeck oozes both vanity and charm as the self-serving Warner, while Laura Scherf crafts Vivienne as a coolly-calculating nemesis for Elle. Christopher Swan brings an air of nearly-tangible superiority to the formidable Professor Callahan, making his character's later actions all the more ominous. OSTC's Legally Blonde boasts an outstanding ensemble cast as well.
In spite of the spangles and silliness that dominate the production, Legally Blonde contains some surprisingly solid messages about growth and maturity, being true to oneself, maintaining integrity both personally and professionally, and combating stereotypes. However, a number of off-color remarks and suggestive musical numbers skirt the questions of taste and political correctness, making the show most suited to a "PG-13" audience.
Legally Blonde's eclectic cast of characters allows for a great range in clothing styles, and Brian Horton's costume design runs the gamut from natty business suits to frothy pink dresses doused in glitter. Staging by Bert Scott is spare in execution, which works to the production's benefit as it keeps attention firmly focused on the actors and story development.
Performances of Legally Blonde: the Musical run through July 28, 2013 at the Ocean State Theatre Company. Tickets range from $39-49 and can be purchased online at www.OceanStateTheatre.org, by phone (401) 921-6800, or at the OSTC box office, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, RI. Rush tickets are available. Call (401) 921-1777 x112 for information on group discounts.
Photo by Mark Turek