Thursday, September 10, 2009

Legally Fun!

Guest blogger Jacob Matsumiya is back with one of his reviews - this time for Legally Blonde the Musical which is at the Center through September 20. Read his thoughts on the show below and also find out when Jacob first became a Legally Blonde fan and what songs he'll humming when he's bored at a lecture.

Jacob's review is in pink.

In his review of Legally Blonde the Musical, Ben Brantley of The New York Times called the show a "nonstop sugar rush," full of "high-energy" and "empty-calories," like "eating a jumbo box of Gummi Bears in one sitting." Basically, if you're averse to large amounts of pep, perkiness, pizazz, and, well, pink this show is definitely not for you. But for the rest of us who do enjoy flashy dance numbers, over-the-top characters, and belting sorority sisters, Legally Blonde the Musical is an undeniably entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable night of theater.

Based on the MGM film of the same name, Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl that proves there is more to a blonde than meets the eye. Through a combination of hard work, determination, and the right outfit, Elle wins the case, gets the man and shows us all how to be true to ourselves.

Led by Becky Gulsvig as Elle, the principals all deliver solid performances, especially the endearing Natalie Joy Johnson as Paulette (Photo: Natalie Joy Johnson as Paulette, China as Rufus and Ven Daniel as Kyle (c) Joan Marcus.) Special notice must also be made to the ensemble members who in their various roles do their very best to steal the show. From Nikos to Kyle the UPS guy to Chutney, these bit players provide the wonderfully brilliant backbone to this quirky musical.

The book writer Heather Hach injects the show with the right dose of humor and poignancy, while also nailing the Valley girl vernacular. The songs by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin are the kind you can't help but find yourself singing for the next few days, if not weeks. I know for sure I'll be humming "Omigod You Guys" or "Bend and Snap" the next time I'm sitting through a boring lecture. They are the perfect complement to the story and in turn they are perfectly complemented by lively and infectious choreography by Jerry Mitchell. While the sets by David Rockwell are noticeably pared down from the Broadway production, I applaud the clever use of the adjustable proscenium to frame the action and overall I feel nothing was lost in translating the production to its current tourable incarnation (God only knows how many trucks it would have taken to haul a whole UCLA sorority house from city to city). Additional kudos to the costumes by Gregg Barnes and the lighting design by Kenneth Posner and Paul Miller, which also serve to complement the overall effervescence of this bubbly production. Truly, Legally Blonde is a musical crafted to please and in that respect it does not fail.

I first became a fan of the show when I watched it on MTV and I would be lying to you if I said that it didn't stay on my DVR for over a year. Whenever I needed a little pick me up or a quick dose of fun, even a few minutes of Legally Blonde the Musical were enough to send me happily on my way. I would also be lying if I told you that Legally Blonde the Musical was anything but old-fashioned musical comedy updated for the millennial generation. Like the candy Mr. Brantley likened it to, the show is an incredibly satisfying piece of sugary fun. Perfectly harmless and delightfully mind-numbing. Thankfully the show makes no apologies for itself, brandishing its bedazzled charm for the world to see. Like its leading lady Legally Blonde the Musical knows what it is and is thoroughly proud of it. And just like Elle it has every right to be.

No comments: