Legally Blonde – The Musical — Tasty Cotton Candy for Everyone

The set is in pink, lots of pink.  Pink flats from floor to rafter, pink doors and columns—heck, even Pink the pop singer was playing on the PA before Act I.  But once the show gets moving, director and choreographer Sam Pettit throws in enough color to provide a charming palette. Be assured, if there is a moment that doesn’t quite work, you need not worry.  The play moves at open freeway speeds right into another scene or song.

The story opens in LA where Elle Wood, played by a charming Carly Hebert, has been rejected by her boyfriend, Warner (Mark Tyler Miller), who wants something more serious and is on his way to Harvard Law School to find it.

Elle decides that to hold on to Warner, she must get into Harvard as well and prove she is a Jackie, not a Marilyn.  She skips a few wild UCLA parties and before you know it, she’s Cambridge bound.  Far fetched?  Who cares—the dancing is crisp, the light pop rock tunes are catchy—I’m surprised more haven’t made the leap to KISS FM– and the cast playing energetic college kids are aiming to please and seem to be having a blast in doing so. 

There is a delightful “Greek Chorus” made up of Elle’s sorority sisters that affirm that her tribulations are indeed tragic.  They are really fun to watch and listen to every time they dance onto the stage.  Jocelyne Fowler does wonders with her costuming from sensible lawyers garb to cheerleaders outfits.  Lots of instant changes in remarkably cramped quarters up there.

 Hebert and Matt Giles, as Emmett, the sincere grad student, have a warm chemistry.  Both have voices that could easily work from a Broadway stage.  Herbert really shines in her lower register and Giles has an effortless tenor voice that perfectly fits the show’s pop ballads.  Ellen Dessler has a number of show stopping moments as Paulette, the older and wiser beautician with a heart of gold and an eye on one sexy UPS deliveryman.

 Erika Zabelle makes what should be an exhausting dance number look (and sound) effortless. Her number “Whipped into Shape” has the entire cast moving at warp speed doing amazing moves with jump ropes.

 Just when the play might become a bit too sweet and airy, Elle digs in to find more meaning for herself, her life and the story line. 

Unfortunately, opening weekend found the sound a bit muddled in the old converted movie theatre.  Some of the wittier dialogue, which could dilute some of the show’s saccharine sweetness, is lost under the music.  It is a tough hall to manage but hopefully the tech folks can improve the product and help make the show the pleasant late summer frolic it really is.

 Legally Blonde the Musical; Book by Heather Hach; Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin; Directed and choreographed by Sam Pettit; Music Director Brandon Peck; Sets by Sam Pettit; Costumes by Jocelyne Fowler,  Lights by Marc King, Sound by Kim Campbell;  At The Seattle Musical Theatre at Magnuson Park through October 7, 2012. Tickets available at www.SeattleMusicalTheatre.org.

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