Legally Blonde, pink packaged musical makes debut on Omaha Community Playhouse stage
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 12:09
If blue is the new black, then pink, pink, and more pink is just stereotyping sorority sisterhood, painting the legal profession black, and over the top theatrics. In other words, “Legally Blonde,” the musical based on the hit 2001 movie, (although warmly embraced by audiences) is slightly outdated for 2012.
If you’re predisposed to the notion that the movie is silly but heartwarming, and are holding out hope the comical musical will do it justice, then the booty shaking pep rally number “What You Want,” reminiscent of a nonsensical and fun loving modern “Grease” tribute, and the “Bend and Snap,” anthem may prepare you for something a little less serious. You will either love it or hate it.
Opening number “Omigod You Guys,” valley-girl-esque antics are barraged in sing-songy solos and zany character deluge. Elle Woods appears on the scene, played by LeAnne Carlson, with powerful vocals, Malibu Barbie style, and a blonde ambition to get engaged to hunk boyfriend, narcissistic Warner Huntington III, played by Paul Hanson. She soon discovers Warner wants a “Jackie” to accompany his side and not “Marilyn” if he wants to be a senator by the time he’s thirty, and dumps her. Elle, bound and determined to show Warner that she can make something of herself, gets accepted into Harvard, and attempts to win him back in the process.
The story is far-fetched and candy coats the brazen mature themes and overtones referenced. Still, one can relate to the heartfelt twinge of pining for a beau who won’t look twice at you anymore, and feeling the incessant drive to prove him wrong by beating him at his own game. The story carries an empowering message, and is as much about finding one’s true identity, even when the odds are stacked against you because you’re blonde and beautiful. Elle has to prove she’s not all ditz, but has both beauty and a brain.
The plot moved along rapidly as set changes swapped out on stage as easily as Carlson’s impressive quick change. The score's nuanced nostalgic musicality and melodic songs were clever, yet simplistic, but nonetheless moved along with each lyric-loaded storyline. There were high and low points but the run is very promising.
Give it a few weeks for it to whip into shape. Voices were drowned out in some numbers and were a split second behind tempo in the challenging instrumental score. The energy started out vibrant and engaging, but began to wane in the second half.
The inspiring “Chip on Your Shoulder” song instilled a sense of new-found dignity and a stick-it-to-the-man mentality to overcome the most challenging obstacles. Theresa Sindelar who played Paulette, roared scenes back to life with her larger than life persona and set of pipes in “Bend and Snap.” Another strong point of the show was fierce cheerleader and “Greek chorus” sorority sister Serena, played by Christine Malfait, who’s spunk and sass showed expertly how to do the move that brings all the boys to the yard, or shall we say salon, and around fast.
Angela Jesen-Fry pulled off the cool and unnerved fitness queen Brooke Wyndham with ease, and Chutney (Malfait) was refreshingly comical and sardonic compared to the Delta Nu character gag one can only take for the first act.
Vivienne Kensington, played by Jodi Vaccaro, provided a contrasting nemesis to Elle with her snooty demeanor, preppy garb and brunette bob, and does a complete one-eighty when she is won over by the bubbly blonde.
Ultimate crowd character favorite was the sexy UPS man Kyle, whose strut and hyper masculine presence intimidated even some men in the audience. Trained dogs in the show brought on an adoring reaction from the audience.
The production in its entirety was cheesy schtick, and didn’t transition enough between the solos and action, but give it time and it will certainly catch up to speed. Overall, "Legally Blonde" is a bit corny, yet endearing, and grows on you. You will find yourself feeling positive about the catchy and feel-good comedy that just deserves a few laughs with its random Enya references and ensuing hilarity.