Legally Blonde: The Musical

by Anthony Jones

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday November 14, 2009

Becky Gulsvig in Legally Blonde: The Musical
Becky Gulsvig in Legally Blonde: The Musical  

When we were first charmed by Legally Blonde, it was a good-hearted comedy and star-making turn for Reese Witherspoon back in 2001. Since then, it spawned a not-so-good but successful sequel, an MTV reality show, and a Broadway musical, now in its first U.S. national tour. Legally Blonde: The Musical made its way to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where it tickled audience members pink with its disarmingly catchy songs and ultra-energetic cast.

The story is the same as the movie, which was originally based on a novel by Amanda Brown. The musical follows the screenplay of the film closely, too closely like many of these film-to-stage adaptations do. Lines and directly lifted and even jokes re-used. The sense of déjà vu is an alarming trend on Broadway, but the musical numbers are where Legally Blonde: The Musical shine.

There are real moments of inspired brilliance that almost recall a different musical, like the courtroom is he gay-or-European sequence "There! Right There," a clear audience favorite and a highlight of the show, which actually seemed to pick up steam in the final act. However, the modern pop sensibilities of the songs and hooky melodies were all over, including the disco balladry of "Serious" and its reprises, the 60's dance-floor burn of "Bend and Snap," and the appropriately cheesy "Omigod You Guys" will keep you humming long after you've left the theater.

What brought it all together is the cast. Each sorority sister of Delta Nu Nu Nu was as memorable and strong as Becky Gulsvig's sugary sweet Elle Woods. Each character was dreamed up as a scene-stealer, from the gorgeous and fiery Brooke Wyndham, played by Colleen Sexton, to Serena, Margot, and Pilar, who became Elle's Greek Chorus for the show, another inspired bit.

But while the show only had a few missteps (Natalie Joy Johnson really was a joy as Paulette, but that "Ireland" number not so much), the show brought enough dazzle and charm to make this not-for-cynics underdog story pop. But audiences would be hard-pressed to be disappointed. If some of the performances don't make you smile, then cameos from Woods' chihuahua surely will.

Legally Blonde: The Musical continues through Sunday, November 22nd at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33312. For more information visit the theater's website