Academy's 'Legally Blonde' Is Pure, Frivolous Fun

By: Ellen Petry Whalen

Over the years, I’ve seen “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” three times. After each performance, I’ve left the theater humming one of the show’s many silly, but catchy tunes. The Academy of Performing Arts’ current production of “Legally Blonde” was no exception.

The movie “Legally Blonde” was a box office hit starring Reese Witherspoon in 2001. It spawned a musical, which opened in 2007 on Broadway and ran for a year and a half.

The effervescent play is all about the fashion-forward and peppy Elle Woods, who is president of the Delta Nu sorority at UCLA. The show opens with Elle thinking her boyfriend, Warner, is going to propose, but instead he dumps her. It’s time “to get serious” about his future at Harvard Law School, and Elle is more of “a Marilyn” and less of “a Jackie,” which wouldn’t help his political career. Desperate to keep the relationship alive, Elle comically hatches a plan and gets into Harvard Law, much to Warner’s surprise.

Marybeth Dull doubles as Elle and the show’s co-choreographer (she was last seen at the APA as Charity in “Sweet Charity.”) The outstanding actor has excellent comic timing and is a true triple threat. Her high energy matches the fast pace of the show while she effortlessly radiates California cool.

As her ex-boyfriend, Zane Bender portrays a reserved blue-blood, but he also plays other interesting characters, like a partying rapper, which shows Bender’s acting range. Heidi Moeykens convincingly plays Vivienne, Warner’s fiancé, who Elle describes as “an evil preppy.”

With a stereotypical Boston accent, Ellen Birmingham is Elle’s hairdresser, Paulette, who dreams of finding an Irish man to love. As Kyle, Justin Torrellas is a hoot as the sexy UPS man who struts his stuff in his brown shorts, much to Paulette’s delight. Together they spoof “Riverdance” in a very funny dance scene.

David Makransky is a natural on stage and is a kindhearted Emmett, who tutors and believes in Elle as she struggles with the demands of Harvard Law. In the song “Chip on My Shoulder,” he tells her she needs to toughen up, like he had to, growing up poor in the “Roxbury slums.”

Veteran actor Beau Jackett is at his finest as the ruthless and distinguished law professor Callahan, which is exemplified in the song “Blood in the Water.”

Adding an unpredictable layer of mystery to the storyline, Anna Macek is Brooke, the famous fitness instructor and possible gold digger who is on trial for her older husband’s murder. With the help of Professor Callahan’s law school interns, she hopes to be proven innocent. A highly entertaining song in the musical is “Gay or European,” in which Brooke’s court case hinges on the pool boy’s sexual preference.

Elle is supported by her Delta Nu sisters throughout the show as they double as a Greek chorus, keeping her spirits up. Their over-the-top energy is contagious, most notably in “Ohmigod You Guys.”

Two scene stealers of note are the adorable canine stars, Bruiser and Rufus, who make some brief appearances.

The musical is true to its fashion roots with endless costume changes, designed by Sophie Williamson and Ellen Birmingham. The basic set, albeit with many detailed scene projections, could have more production value.

Together, director Peter Earle and music director Christopher Morris have created an electrifying, two-and-a-half hour production that keeps the laughs rolling, the toes tapping, and is unapologetically pure, frivolous fun.

 

Details:

“Legally Blonde: The Musical”

The Academy of Performing Arts, Orleans

Through Aug. 19

Information and reservations: 508-255-1963, www.apacape.org