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Monday, July 15, 2013

CenterStage Opens Season with Cheerful “Legally Blonde”

Kate Reedy in Legally Blonde, the Musical.
Photo – CenterStage.


Legally Blonde, the Musical

Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin
Book by Heather Hach
Directed by John R. Leffert

Review by Rachel White

Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Rachel White. All rights reserved.

From its opening number “Omigod, You Guys,” Legally Blonde, the Musical promises to be a caffeine rushed, slightly manic ode to all things super girly, pink, and slightly spacey. As the show opens, Elle Woods (Kate Reedy) is getting engaged and needs, ohmigod, a dress. Her sorority sisters clamor to help her; they are almost as ecstatic as Elle about the event. Having been a part of a small college sorority for close to three years, the representation was hauntingly familiar. But as those who’ve seen the movie know, tragedy awaits. Warner (R. Wayne Huntington III) is in fact breaking up with Elle and running off to Harvard. So, Elle has the brilliant of idea of getting into Harvard herself to win him back. What else can she do?

The musical is based on the movie and book, obviously, but it’s different in that its focus is on the songs. The plot is more of a vehicle for the songs, so some of the characters are not as developed and some of the humor is lost. CenterStage pulls it off, however, and although some scenes are more focused than others. You get the sense that the performers love what they are doing and are committed to quality work.

A couple of numbers that really captured my attention were “Whipped into Shape,” which featured the fierce energy of Lauren McCombs as the exercise Guru and Lauren LeBlanc as the stylist Paulette; and “Blood in the Water,” which Michael Drury performs with the smooth nonchalance of a creepball law professor. Kate Reedy plays Elle with a little more edge than Reese Witherspoon did in the movie, which is a smart choice in that it affords Reedy the opportunity to make the role her own. These performances, along with and a cheerful and totally committed Greek Chorus, keep the evening moving.

Where I think the script misses is in simplifying Elle to a dumb blonde. It seems to me that she is quite clever in spite of her love for fashion and beauty. Life up until now has been fairly effortless for Elle, not because she isn’t smart, but because she in fact is. The events that happen – scoring high on the LSAT, discovering a way to prove Brook’s case – are treated more like miracles rather than demonstrations of the young woman’s secret strengths. Clearly the girl has some actual smarts that the script never quite gives her credit for.  

Legally Blonde, the Musical

July 11-21, 2013

CenterStage
Jewish Community Center
3600 Dutchmans Lane
Louisville, KY 40205

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