Sunday, October 7, 2018

Review of Legally Blonde at Paramount Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Legally Blonde. The music and lyrics were by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin and the book was by Heather Hach, based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture. It was directed and co-choreographed by Trent Stork, co-choreographed by Megan E. Farley, and music directed and conducted by Kory Danielson. It was about a woman named Elle Woods (Casey Shuler) whose boyfriend Warner (Tyler Lain) breaks up with her and she decides she is going to follow him to Harvard Law and get him back. She gets in and meets Emmett (Gerald Caesar), who is one of the only people who believes in Elle and is the TA for Professor Callahan (James Rank). And in Callahan's class she finds out that Warner has a new girlfriend, Vivienne (Jacquelyne Jones). She decides she is going to win him back through her successes at Harvard. Even though it starts out seeming like it is a story about getting a man's attention to fulfill your purpose as a woman, it turns out to be a show about being yourself instead of changing yourself for a man. I thought this was a really fun show. I really liked the songs, and I thought the cast was amazing.

I really liked the song "What You Want." It was all about how Warner didn't see that Elle was the perfect woman for him, but maybe if she got into Harvard Law, then he would. It has all these different segments of her taking the test and having different distractions, like at one point a shirtless guy just dances on her table while she takes the test. I loved Elle's friends--Serena (Lucy Godinez), Margot (Sara Reinecke), and Pilar (Kyrie Courter), who were also her inner voices in the form of a Greek Chorus--in this musical and their role in this song. There was a crazy dance number and some hilarious comedic sections. I also really liked that the writers didn't make Elle's friends just classic Valley girls. I really liked the characters and they seemed like good friends. They didn't feel annoying to me. I loved their singing and their chemistry with Elle on stage.

I thought the song "Legally Blonde--Remix" was really well performed. I was especially impressed by the high note that Vivienne hit. It was so perfect that it gave me chills. This was the song that most obviously flipped the story around from being about trying to win back a man. Vivienne decides she doesn't want to be against Elle anymore. She wants to stand by her and realizes what a jerk Warner is. And Elle is realizing that she needs to stop trying to change herself so that people will like her. This is also where Paulette (Sophie Grimm), Elle's hairdresser and friend, finds out that Kyle (James Doherty), the UPS guy she has been obsessing over, is actually the Irish dream she has been waiting for. They have a little jig together as part of the parade of people going to court to support Elle. I really loved these two characters and the hilarious chemistry they had together. It was just really fun whenever they were on stage.

I liked how this show didn't conform to a lot of ideas of masculine and feminine. It doesn't think women have one thing they can do; it shows a large array of how women can dress and be and act and still succeed. Elle, Vivienne, and Enid (Teressa LaGamba) are very different types of women, but they all succeed at being lawyers. I think the show thinks as well that being a man or being a woman should be enough masculinity or femininity as long as you identify that way. The song "Take It Like A Man" is where Elle takes Emmett shopping so that he can better reflect what is on the inside and impress his boss and the court. They have all these suggestions that they are falling in love during this scene. It is a makeover song, but unlike most makeover song--and even the other makeover songs in this show ("Legally Blonde" and "What You Want")--it is not about a changing a woman. It suggests that paying attention to your appearance shouldn't just be for women. Emmett and Elle bond so much during this song, and you get to see them just talking to each other and just having fun. It makes you really want their relationship to turn out well and shows you that it is not at all like the relationship she had with Warner, which was based on superficial things. In this song, shopping is not superficial; it is a chance to connect. I think this is an example of her showing why her charity, Shop for a Cause, might actually have worked!

People who would like this show are people who like Irish fantasies, fabulous Greek choruses, and shopping for the cause of love. I think that people should see this show. It is a lot of fun, hilarious, and a surprisingly communal experience. I really liked it.

Photos: Liz Lauren

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