For the college-centric story of Legally Blonde – The Musical, there seems no better fit than TheaterVCU to bring this musical to life. This adaptation, running in VCU’s Singleton Center for Performing Arts through December 4, comes from a long series of adaptations from Hollywood to Broadway, but retains a strong love story with funny and captivating characters. For those who may only be familiar with the 2001 film, this musical gives you the lovable characters and witty punchlines with a big stage flair, all performed by talented young semi-professionals.
The story of Elle Woods follows a sorority girl’s passion for her career-obsessed ex-boyfriend, taking her to Harvard Law school while looking to ditch her frilly pink demeanor for something more “serious” to win her boyfriend back. The story’s evolution of a woman finding her talent and fulfillment in the field of law relies heavily on the witty and bubbly Elle, and in this production, the role stood strong with a faithful and funny portrayal by VCU junior Kaitlyn Tate. Elle’s strengths were emphasized by a reliable ensemble of convincing sorority sisters and law students who aided in delivering some of the night’s biggest laughs. Other cast standouts include the veteran screen and stage actor Happy Mahaney as the demanding lawyer Professor Callahan (giving a strong performance in the law school lecture song Blood in the Water), and VCU junior Madison Hatfield playing the Boston hairdresser Paulette (whose feature on the song Ireland was a show highlight).
The biggest takeaway is that this musical pulls no punches, as expected from the ever-adventurous theater department at VCU. Chockablock with ensemble choruses and extended dance numbers, the cast revels in their hard work for choreography, sending this performance over the top. Director and choreographer Patti D’Beck’s influence as a dance-oriented director is clear, and provides spirited moments that move the story forward with enthusiasm. Beyond director D’Beck’s role, another major benefit for this performance is the ensemble, cast and crew, of college-aged talent, as their dedication and fervor for this play add another layer of exuberance that draws a captive audience. With veteran and student musicians making up the backing ensemble, a talented group of lighting and sound techs, as well as the positive cast, this performance has an infectious energy that will leave you feeling young, empowered, and a fan of the color pink. Recommended for teens and up.
Legally Blond – The Musical runs through December 3. Visit TheaterVCU for showtimes and tickets.