By Lynn Geyer
For the few of you who have never seen Legally Blonde, the 2001 movie with Reese Witherspoon, this is the way it goes:
Ellie Wood is a spoiled rotten rich American princess who has never gotten a thing on her own, unless Mommy and Daddy bought it for her. Ellie is in love with Warner Huntington III, who is crazy about her money but doesn’t think she is really good — and certainly not smart — enough for him.
Ellie is in college, a member of Delta Nu Sorority, and not much more. Warner decides he will go to Harvard Law. Ellie decides she will join him in the prestigious school.
By razzle and dazzle, but Omigod, every unbelievable gimmick, Ellie makes it! Here she meets Emmett Forrest, who believes in her! Ellie breezes through four years of Harvard Law in about 15 minutes, shows up Warner, who has dumped our blonde beauty and chosen a more influential “mate,” then Ellie wins two cases which were un-winnable! She even manages to hook Emmett and they all live happily ever…etc., etc.
Cute show, complete with the Beverly Hills Chihuahua and a charming bull dog – now add music.
That’s what Lawrence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin did to Heather Hach’s book, and turned it into Legally Blonde, the Musical.
Resident director Jon Douglas Rake has given the show full “Valley Girl” treatment, complete with rah, rah choreography – every song is a production number – from freshman to graduation!
Jeffrey Stvrtecky leads the eight-piece orchestra, which sometimes overshadows the singers, but that’s not important – in this case; it is the music and the production style that make the show a – well – show-stopper!
Will Abrahamse does the set and John Chenault creates the lighting design. Margot Webb, Grace Stone and Dianne Boerger, the stitchers of the costume shop, fittingly paint the outfits predominately pink!
Of course, in Rake’s inimitable style, the cast is huge – 23 named roles and 19 in the Ensemble. It is amazing how Rake keeps them moving on stage without bumping into each other!
The Ensemble members, many of whom do lesser roles as well, are Kyle Allen, Carlos Barajas, Angelica Barksdale, Cameron Brown, Adrian Cerrato, Arthur Cuadros, Adolpho Dominguez, Sara Anne Flansburg, Megan Hicks, Kawika Huston, Emileigh Kershaw, Kathy Kluska, Lauren Nance, Cass Neumann, F. James Raasch, Jimmy Shields, Charles Simmons, Hanna Smith and Vanessa Yamat. As previously stated, they move and dance about the stage, remember their spot and don’t bump into one another – a giant fete!
The lesser roles are all nicely done. Raasch is Elle’s Dad, Kluska is Elle’s Mom. Kershaw is Kate, a sorority sister; Brown is Lowell; Huston is Padamadan; Simmons appears as Grandmaster Chad; and Smith does a nice job as Whitney.
The real stand-outs of this group are Barajas as the Pool Boy Nikos and Cuadros, who is also Dance Captain, as his boyfriend, Carlos. These two are a hoot as they strut about the stage!
Brittany Henderson does a good job as law student Enid Hoopes. Alena Menefee rightfully plays Vivian Kensington with disdain at first, but becomes more understanding toward the end of the show. Mark Rake-Marona is the teacher you love to hate as a sleazy Professor Callahan.
Julia Stockton has a moment in the sun as Brooke Wyndham, the physical fitness guru. Stockton not only bounces about the stage with verve and vigor, but she does it in stop-action, as well!
Steve Barnett is Warner Huntington III, Elle’s love. Barnett plays him as a real go-getter looking for the best thing to go get.
Bruce Haasl is quite good as Emmett Forrest, the helpful law instructor who gets Elle in the end.
Brittni Reinertsen, Brynne Geiszler and Stephanie Graham play Margot, Serena and Pilar, Delta Nu sorority sisters who announce scene and mood changes with song and dance. This trio beautifully brings life to the show numbers.
Lisa Wright Thiroux is the beautician Paulette Buonofuonte who Elle helps retrieve her beloved Bull Dog Rufus, brilliantly played by Chopper, from Paulette’s ex. Thiroux is wonderful in the role of the buoyant hairdresser who spends more time settling others lives than her own.
Until she meets the UPS guy Kyle, handsomely played by Joey Schultz!
Mustn’t forget to mention Bruiser, Elle’s Chihuahua, who is perfectly played by Baby.
Leah Wickstrom is Elle Woods – really, Wickstrom is Woods. At least, she ACTS as though she is and that’s what it’s all about.
Legally Blonde, the Musical continues at Tacoma Musical Playhouse at 7116 Sixth Avenue, just east of Jackson, through April 28, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
For reservations or more information, call the box office at (253) 565-6867 or go online to www.tmp.org.
Legally Blonde, the Musical is a fun evening. You’ll leave the theatre without remembering a single lyric or tune, but you’ll leave with a good feeling and you’ll remember the show–stoppers which fill every minute of the production.