pretty brainy in pink

The premise of Legally Blonde is a high-minded moral axiom – “be true to yourself” and everything else falls into place. Or, how about this one – “love conquers all” (when it’s the right love). And then there’s “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Yes, there are many lessons to be learned from Legally Blonde. The most important, however, is don’t take a shower just hours after perming your hair.

Based on the novel (yes, there was a book) and the movie, Legally Blonde the Musical is the classic “chick” show – love story, giggling girls, happy ending. For a chick-show, however, this first offering of the Topeka Civic Theater’s 76th season also garnered applause and enthusiasm from males in the audience. The explanation for how a promiscuously pink production could appeal to both sexes and all ages lies in the fact that it is just plain fun. From the opening moments of Delta Nu sorority girls popping from their dorm windows to its triumphant finale, every minute is fun, and energetic! The choreographer and dancers worked overtime to make these routines appear spontaneous and fluid. (The jump rope scene is really impressive!) Bravo! Of course, none of the dances or songs would work without the music. Excellent job from the orchestra.

Just in case you weren’t dragged to a Broadway performance or the movie starring Reese Witherspoon, here is the storyline: The blonde, Malibu-bred, UCLA fashion-design student Elle Woods (Sara Kennedy) expects her college sweetheart, Warner (Matt Briden), to propose. Instead, he leaves her for Harvard Law School. (Comparing himself to Jack Kennedy, Warner informs Elle that he needs a “Jackie” not a “Marilyn.” Hilarious!) Determined to become the serious-minded woman of his dreams, Elle manages acceptance to the prestigious university where she finds how capable she truly is and the real love of another law student, Emmett (Jared Martin). Oh yes, and she has a little accessory dog, too.

The pooch was not omni-present in the play as it was in the movie. But his moments on stage were priceless. Initially the little bug-eyed beast in frilly costume came out and had a conversation with one of Elle’s sorority sisters. The doggie wasn’t listed with the cast, but should have been. Less cooperative was the pet of hairdresser, Paulette (Robin M. Bonsall) who had to be carried because he wouldn’t go in the right direction. Whatever their actions, the audience loved the pooches! Any more time on stage and the pretty girls would have been upstaged.

Speaking of pretty girls, the “Greek Choir” present throughout is like a cheer squad on steroids. These girls have a lot of work and they are always smiling, always in character, always on time and on key. You will be impressed by the vocal talent of the entire cast.

As usual, TCTA did an excellent job of casting. The petite, blonde Sara Kennedy easily becomes Elle Woods and bless his heart, Matt Briden as Warner is just typecasting. (Remember him as Hamlet?) He is just born to be an aristocrat. TCTA veteran Walt Boyd is the perfect choice for the law professor and Jared Martin has just the sweet, sincere look to pull off the good guy Elle eventually falls for.

A very challenging set, lots of changes, lots of pieces, and well-done and appropriate. (TCTA’s set designer should turn his attention to urban planning, me thinks.)

Oh, and about the perm. . . . Elle’s intimate knowledge of beauty care comes in very handy when defending a rich trophy wife in her husband’s murder. Oh, one more thing. You gals are going to love the UPS guy. After all, a chick-show has to have a couple of hunks in the midst of all that pinkness!

Legally Blonde the Musical is playing at TCTA through October 6. Tickets may be purchased on-line at the Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy website, at the box office located at 3028 SW 8th Street, or by phone: 785-357-5211.

[ Review by Deb Bisel | Image submitted ]

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