|New Format, Same Fluffy 'Blonde'|
|Thursday, 05 July 2012 15:52|
OK. I give up.
Seeing the fluffily foolish entertainment that is “Legally Blonde, The Musical” for the second time in two weeks, I have to admit to enjoying the musical in whatever production format it appears, providing the cast is up to the challenge of almost non-stop vocals and highly energetic dancing.
The “straight stage” version (performed in a traditional venue) opened Tuesday evening at The Barn Theatre in Augusta, Mich. My previous encounter was presented in the round. It seems that the megaton of energy exuded by the primary blonde, Elle Woods (here played with unshakable determination and irresistibly kooky charm by Melissa Cotton) is just about impossible to ignore.
The score still lacks anything that I can recall this morning but, at the time, it was totally entertaining. Guess that means you have to be there.
Pink, pink and more pink is the color of every day for Elle and her sisters of Delta Nu Sorority at UCLA. When their collective anticipation of Elle’s engagement to Warner Huntington III (Jamey Grisham, also the show’s choreographer and a dead ringer for film Warner, Matthew Davis) is dashed by his determination to find someone more “Serious,” they muster their considerable forces to send her off in his direction, that being Harvard Law School.
If your mind boggles at the thought of a stereotypical bimbo blonde entering the sacred halls of Harvard, boggle away. Ellle’s strategy is overwhelming and her live and in-person admissions packet does the trick.
Accompanied by Bruiser (Algernon Edlund), a tiny mixed breed canine (“He’s not a dog. He’s one of the family”), and a Greek Chorus trio (Julie Grisham, Natalie Sparbeck and Samantha Rickard, all equally energized and Valley Girl-ish!) who strongly resemble her best friends in Delta Nu, Elle never loses sight of her goal — to be “a Jackie not a Marilyn” for Warner.
Barn veterans Penelope Alex and Eric Parker demonstrate that older can be at least as good in the roles of Paulette Bonafonte and lawyer/law professor Callahan. Paulette owns the Hair Affair, dreams of a life in Ireland and offers Elle a much-needed ego boost. She also masters one of the show’s most exuberant numbers “Bend and Snap,” Callahan, who demands “Blood in the Water” from his students, finally displays the underside of the legal profession.
Callahan’s assistant, Emmett Forrest (Patrick Hunter, a Luke Wilson lookalike with a killer baritone), is a constant support to the fledgling barrister and finds admiration turning to — well, it’s a musical, what did you expect?
Things come to a head when Callahan’s intern team takes the case of Brooke Wyndham (Bethany Edlund), an exercise guru and Delta Nu, charged with killing her older millionaire husband. Elle brings the real killer to “permanent” justice, wins the case and the right man.
The opening night audience reacted wildly to the appearance of Brendan Ragotzy, Barn producer and husband of Penelope Alex, as Kyle, the UPS delivery man who has a package for Paulette. Another Barn Mr. and Mrs., Roy Brown and Emily Fleming, play Elle’s parents and prove again that there are no small parts!
Hans Freidrichs directed the fast-paced production, with John Jay Espino leading the four-man band. Steven Lee Burrright designed the flexible setting. Costumes were by Michael Wilson Morgan, who might want to check Elle’s shoes. One flew into the audience accidentally during an energetic number and was followed, on purpose, by the other.
Neither loss lessened the “Legally Blonde’s” performance by a snap.
“LEGALLY BLONDE” plays through July 15 in the theater on M60 between Galesburg and Augusta, Mich. For performance times and reservations, call (269) 731-4121 or visit www.barntheatre.com
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 02:10|