will tickle you pink
"Legally Blonde" is a highly underrated show (the movie, too, honestly). At first glance, a story about a pink-wearing, richy rich, blonde Valley girl chasing her boyfriend to Harvard doesn't inspire confidence. However, it cleverly uses the assumption that it will be predictable and vapid to surprise you at every turn with its wit, heart, and fabulous score.
After all, we all know what happens when you assume.
Seattle Musical Theatre's production of "Legally Blonde" is everything you want from this delectable show. It has a very talented cast, a live band for extra pep (thank you Musical Director Brandon Peck), Jocelyne Fowler's fun and flattering costumes, and two adorable dogs (yes, real ones) who steal every scene they're in. It would take an Olympian effort not to walk out of there grinning and humming.
The show is based on the film of the same name starring Reese Witherspoon, about a sorority princess who follows her ex to Harvard and ends up becoming one seriously good lawyer, despite what everyone expects. The Broadway production was nominated for seven Tony Awards.
Carly Hebert as Elle Woods is perky and confident; we root for her from beginning to end. Matt Giles as the shabby, but intelligent and kind law associate Emmet is absolutely adorable, his comedic timing is excellent, and the eventual romance is sigh-worthy satisfying. The cut-from-marble Mark Tyler Miller as Elle's ex, the self-obsessed "Warner," nails it. He's conceited, he's smarmy, he's gorgeous (this bears repeating).
Kate Sumpter is Vivienne, Warner's Harvard girlfriend and Elle's rival. Sumpter's acting is very good -- it would be easy to over-play the frigid Ice Queen, but Sumpter keeps it real. However, when she belts the solo during the curtain call with such power and vigor, it leaves you wondering why she held back during her previous songs. J. Stegar Thompson is the condescending, elitist Professor Callahan, and does a great job with his song "Blood in the Water."
Director Sam Pettit deserves a big round of applause for this ensemble, truly the greatest joy of this production. The ensemble is energetic, hilarious, and, importantly, they know when to fade into the background without upstaging the scene or the main actors. A few stand-outs include Mike Bowers as Elle's dad, Bethanie Russell as a salon worker and the judge (if looks could kill, man), and Erika Zabelle as Brooke Windham, the fitness video empress accused of murder. Everyone earns a big gold star for the rollicking number "Gay or European?" especially Bowers and fellow cast member Andrew Murray. It is always a treat when Elle's Greek chorus, led by Krista Gibbon, Lindsay Powers, and Kate Mosbarger, trots out on stage to cheer our blonde star on.
There were some mic issues, making some of the lyrics hard to hear over the band and some one-liners got lost in the fray. Additionally, though this may be fixed, the theater itself was very hot and stuffy and many audience members were using their playbills as fans for much of the production.
Yes, Elle is slathered in pink (her "signature color"), yes she loves to shop, yes she initially decides to go to Harvard to impress a guy. But rewind -- the girl gets in to Harvard ("Like it's hard!") and kicks serious butt. She never compromises her ethics, she never puts anyone down to get what she wants. Elle Woods is 100% percent herself and, pay attention ladies, she loves herself. She doesn't have to give up a single inch of who she is to succeed. The show is about her coming into her own power and her journey is filled with catchy tunes, witty humor, and a heartfelt message. Who would have thought, right?
If you've never seen "Legally Blonde," you will, like, totally love it. If you know the show, head out to Seattle Musical Theatre and remind yourself why you loved it in the first place. You won't be disappointed.