CAROL ROSEGG Enlarge
The power of pink is in full bloom, as Legally Blonde, the Musical closes out Theater League’s Lincoln Broadway Series at the Stranahan Theater.
The show is a girl-power message wrapped in theatrical cotton candy that’s designed to entertain. Despite a few labored moments, it pretty much succeeds.
A straightforward adaptation of the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde, the Musical centers on Elle Woods (played by Nikki Bohne), a senior at UCLA where she’s president of her sorority, majors in fashion merchandising, and has a corner on the market in all things pink.
Expecting a graduation engagement ring from Warner Huntington III (Matthew Ragas), Elle is instead dumped by her self-centered beau, who announces that he’s going to Harvard Law School, and his future demands a more serious girlfriend.
“I need a Jackie, not a Marilyn,” he tells her and is shocked when she’s devastated.
After a few days in mourning, Elle has a brainstorm: She’ll get into Harvard Law too and show Warner she has the brains to fit into his future.
Of course, Elle gets in, but she has a few more roadblocks to overcome on the way to Warner’s heart, not the least of which is the demanding Professor Callahan (Kahlil Joseph), who throws Elle out of class on the first day because she hasn’t done the required reading.
Another roadblock is Vivienne Kensington (Hannah DeFlumeri), Warner’s new girlfriend, who knows all the right people and doesn’t see any point to having fun or making friends unless they can contribute to her career path.
But Elle has some people in her corner, notably the sassy beautician Paulette (Jillian Wallach); sorority sisters Pilar, Margot, and Serena (Brit West, Maggie Taylor, and Nadia Vynnytsky), who show up as a Greek chorus, and Callahan’s assistant, Emmett Forrest (Nic Rouleau), who sees that Elle has a brain and pushes her into using it.
As Elle, Bohne is in almost every scene, and she handles the demands of the show with a great deal of skill and charm, which comes in handy in some of the more over-the-top sequences. Joseph’s Professor Callahan is almost too believable as a brilliant but ultimately sleazy attorney. And Wallach, whose grandparents, I’m told, live in Toledo, is wonderfully funny as the woman looking for love in all the wrong places.
Actually, there’s no slouch among the cast members. Perhaps because they’ve been working together since September (the show ends its run on May 15), they’ve become a well-oiled group, able to play off each other and gloss over the occasional flub.
With one peppy song and dance number after another, Legally Blonde, the Musical speeds through Elle’s life, slowing down only for the occasional plot bump, such as a tired sex joke or cringe-worthy bump-and-grind sequence. (Who knew getting into law school was so easy?) The pace is brisk and the story is shallow, but the cast is engaging enough to keep the smiles coming.
Speaking of engaging, keep an eye out for Frankie and Chico, chihuahuas who share the role of Elle’s dog, Bruiser. They aren’t on stage often, but when they are, they steal the show.
“Legally Blonde, the Musical” continues at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Tickets range from $23 to $57 from the Stranahan box office and TicketMaster outlets, including charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000. TicketMaster outlets charge additional fees. Information: 419-381-8851.
Contact Nanciann Cherry at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6130.