LEGALLY BLONDE. Book by Heather Hach; music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin; directed and choreographed by Nick Sugar. Produced by Town Hall Arts Center (2450 West Main St., Littleton) through June 19. Tickets available through 303-794-2787 ext. 5 or www.townhallartscenter.org.
Two or three years ago, a bright young singer played Guinevere in Performance Now’s production of CAMELOT. At the time I remarked that she had an amazing resemblance to Reese Witherspoon and would be perfect for LEGALLY BLONDE. Well, my prediction came true. In Town Hall’s production, Rachelle Wood has achieved her dream role as Elle Woods. She shows the world that being blonde doesn’t mean that you can’t be intelligent and human all at the same time. Not only does Rachelle bring superlative singing and dancing to the role, but she also honors the character with her sensitive and genuine portrayal of Elle’s transformation and humanity.
We meet Elle Woods as she is planning her engagement outfit, as tonight she is going to be proposed to by her longtime boyfriend Warner (Tim Oakes). When that proposal turns into a breakup because Warner’s well-planned life demands a more “serious” wife, Elle decides to make herself over into a serious person. She squeaks into Harvard Law, following Warner, and then proceeds to develop her native intelligence with the help of fellow student Emmett (Carter Edward Smith). Her analytical skills, her imagination, her determination AND her basic knowledge of beauty products and human nature win the day, the case and the right guy.
Elle is supported along the way by her Greek chorus of Delta Nu sorority sisters—Serena (Jenny Moll Reyes), Margot (Heather Fritton) and Pilar (Chelly Canales). Her new best friend at Harvard becomes, not surprisingly, her hairdresser Paulette, played by newcomer Dayle Extrell. Paulette’s dream is to find an Irishman who is kind, sensitive and able to dance without moving his arms. Her dream comes true from an unexpected source.
The supporting roles in this production are excellent on all counts. Carter Edward Smith as the sweet but slightly shabby Emmett cleans up nicely. Tom Oakes as the snobbish Warner is too cute to hate. His new girlfriend Vivienne is played by Rebekah Ortiz as tightly wound but intelligent in a humane way. The role of Brooke, an exercise coach accused of murder, gives Kaitlyn Althoff the opportunity to step out of the ensemble and into the spotlight. Ryan Buehler makes a lovely UPS man; Taylor Nicole Young is totally unrecognizable as the mannish Enid, and Zach Stailey is the cocky college professor who looks for “Blood in the Water” amongst his sharks in training. All in all, everyone gets small bits that contribute to the humorous story and enhance this production.
There are several scenes that remain highlighted in my memory. During the trial, a key point becomes whether one witness is “gay or European.” How they resolve the issue is hilarious. Another witness loses credibility when her perm doesn’t perform normally. Paulette’s dreams of “Ireland” are sweet and silly. Emmett’s transformation in “Take It LIke a Man” brought swoons of delight from the females in the audience. The bright songs, clever lyrics and delightful story keep the evening moving along at a quick pace.
Tina Anderson’s versatile set allows the story to unfold smoothly. Thanks also to the cast and crew who operate like worker bees to get everything off and on quickly and silently. THAC casts have always been so ready to step up and help in this way; they must have had multiple rehearsals just for moving the sets to achieve this efficiency of movement. Tina’s set utilized a hot-pink Greek frieze on the stage floor and on columns that opened up to become other pieces in clever ways.
Pink being Elle’s signature color, the costumes too reflected her taste. This show had its challenges for costumer Nicole Harrison, who had to provide everything from a spangly drum-majorette outfit and workout clothes to glorified hippie clothes for Paulette, a form-fitting UPS uniform and even court attire. And she did it!
It would be fun to see a Town Hall production on a slightly bigger stage . . . say one the size of Lakewood Cultural Center. As it is, they fit 24 cast members and two dogs on the slight stage at Town Hall, filling it but not making it seem crowded. In one number—”Whipped Into Shape”—they even had room to swing exercise jump ropes. THAC outdid themselves on this one. Trust me, it’s worth the trip to Littleton.
WOW factor: 9!