Book by: Heather Hach
Based on the novel by: Amanda Brown
and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture
Produced by: Hillbarn Theatre
Directed by: Dan Demers
Choreographed by: Jim Ambler
Music direction by: Rick Reynolds
Featuring: Courtney Hatcher, Justin Travis Buchs, Gennine Harrington, Brigitte Losey, Catrina Manahan, Catherine Rieflin, Ray D'Ambrosio, Brad Satterwhite, Jocelyn Pickett, Noelani Neal, Lizzie Moss, Elana Ron, Joe Murphy, Christine Baker, Noah Boger, Corrie Farbstein, Doug Greer, Sarah Hammond, Efrain Lazcano-Ibarra, Alyssa Leonard, Jennifer Martinelli, Jessica Maxey, Lauren Meyer, Ray Ross, Jon Schneider, Zach Smallman, Lucie Sudmeier, Allison Zenke
Running time: 135 minutes, one intermission
When: August 25 through September 18, 2016
Where: Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 East Hillsdale Boulevard, Foster City
Tickets: $28-48; call 1-650-349-6411 or visit www.hillbarntheatre.org.
of 'Legally Blonde: The Musical'
is a huge amount of charming fun
Blondes are one of the few remaining societal groups not to have been given blanket protection from jokes by the PC police. And thank heaven. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the treat of an evening known as "Legally Blonde: The Musical."
Most musicals follow a fairly standard formula person is challenged in some way, falls in/out of love, travels somewhere, finds mentor, falls in/out of love again, and finally overcomes challenge in the party of the first part. "Legally Blonde" follows this formula to a tee, but does so with such lashings of humor, wit, charm, dancing girls and fun, that we really don’t care.
Courtney Hatcher plays Elle Woods, a bubble-headed blonde with a penchant for pink, who thinks her life is over when perfect boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Brad Satterwhite) dumps her on his way to Harvard Law School, where she is "just not part of the plan." His life plan, that is, laid out before him, including three kids "just like the Kennedys." Before long, Elle picks herself up and decides to follow Warner to Harvard, where she will show him that she has brains as well as beauty. Well, after all, she does have a 4.0 GPA in fashion merchandising.
She hits the books, and resists temptations such as the "beer bash extreme" to (eventually) pass her LSAT with a 175, one point above the Harvard requirement. Courtney Hatcher was born for the role of "Woods comma Elle." And not just because she is blonde and looks good in pink. She morphs quite effortlessly from the bubble-headed party-goer, to the get-up-and-go member of the legal team who won’t be pushed under or around and comes up with the case-winning idea. It’s just coincidence that Hatcher is a paralegal during the day.
Having gotten into Harvard, she proceeds to follow Warner around, assuming that he will see that her brains match her beauty and so will want her back. She is devastated when she finds out that he has proposed marriage to someone else, the rather snooty Vivienne, played with suitably house-in-the-Hamptons disdain by Jocelyn Pickett. Elle has already started confiding in her mentor, hairdresser Paulette Bonafonte of Hair Affair, played by Gennine Harrington. At first Paulette appears to be just a bit part, but we soon realize that she can help Elle transform herself from party girl to legal eagle. Along the way, of course, through the wonders and attractions of her Irish heritage, Paulette finds herself. She also finds love, with UPS delivery guy Kyle (middle name Brendan), played with panache by Joe Murphy.
Harrington is really wonderful in the role of Paulette. She punches way above her diminutive figure and steals many scenes with her Boston accent, tight outfits and great singing voice.
Elle’s law professor, professor Callahan, played with Kevin Spacey-like inscrutability by Ray D’Ambrosio, is a force to be reckoned with and does not suffer fools lightly. He is impressed by Elle’s obvious talent for the law, but also decides to makes a pass at her, which she firmly rejects, seemingly dooming her chances at law school. The class is assisting Callahan on a case where fitness guru Brooke Wyndham (Noelani Neal) has been accused of murdering her husband. Neal makes Jane Fonda look like Roseanne Barr, and leads some wonderful fitness/dance moves.
Elle makes a new friend in Emmet Forest, played by Justin Travis Buchs. Buchs has an excellent singing voice and is also gradually transformed by Elle from corduroy jacket with elbow patches to case-winning suit and tie. She sings "I love shopping for men. They come in a 2 and go out a 10." There are some great lyrics and lines in the show – this reviewer had a permanent smile on his face.
The ensemble, as Delta Nu Sorority and Greek Chorus, were smashing (the blonde leading the blonde), though Brigette Losey as Margot the redhead stood out from the crowd. The band, hidden behind a second-floor wall, was superb, and Dan Demers’ direction as always left no comedic stone unturned. (He had a mere 2 ½ weeks with the actors at the theater to whip them into shape.)
"Never work with children or animals" said the inimitable W.C. Fields. But there are clearly exceptions. Bruiser the chihuahua, played here by Wilbur, and Dewey played by Remy, a French bulldog, were models of well-behaved cuteness, which tended to rub off on whoever was holding them at the time. They both stole scenes from their handlers and didn’t seem in the least bit fazed by all the lights and commotion.
There were some excellent supporting performances, but the best actor envelope surely says Courtney Hatcher as "Woods comma Elle" for her singing, dancing and acting.
Email Tony Lacy-Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org