Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Legally Blonde"

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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"Legally Blonde"

A Review by Tony Annicone

Little Theatre of Fall River's final show of their 80th season is "Legally Blonde." This musical version is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film with the same name. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl from Delta Nu who is the college sweetheart and home coming queen who doesn't take no for an answer. So when her boyfriend, Warner dumps her for someone 'serious', Elle puts down her credit cards, hits the books, and heads to Harvard Law School to win him back. Along the way, Elle proves being true to yourself never goes out of style. She also discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others and defends fitness guru, Brooke Wyndham. The original Broadway production opened in April 29, 2007 and ran until October 19, 2008. Director Aaron Gendreau-Visco creates a fantastic high energy show with his keen insight into these comic characters. Musical director Dan Snizek taught all the marvelous musical numbers while conducting a topnotch orchestra and choreographer Jen Bellanti supplied the terrific dance numbers that stop the show. Their expertise creates a musical treat that enthralls the audience from start to finish.

Aaron blocks this huge musical beautifully. The dance numbers are spectacular and include hip hop, line dance, Irish step dance, conga and marching to name a few. Jillian Zucco is dynamite as Elle. She is gorgeous brunette who wears a blonde wig for this role. Jillian appears in almost every scene of this musical and makes the transition from blonde bubble head sorority girl to a serious novice lawyer beautifully. Her unbelievable voice and dancing prowess astound the audience. Jillian's numbers include "Omigod You Guys" where she thinks she's getting engaged to Warner, "Daughter of Delta Nu" where she receives a pep talk for her sorority sisters, "What You Want" (which sounds like "Right in Front of Your Eyes" from "Wedding Singer") where she sings her essay to be accepted at Harvard, "So Much Better" when she receives good news at the end of Act 1, "Take It Like a Man" when she buys new clothes for Emmett, "Bend and Snap" when she teaches Paulette how to attract an UPS man, then a tear jerking duet with Emmett called "Legally Blonde" and finally "Find My Way", a poignant song when she realizes what is important in her life at last and wins the day. Jillian receives a spontaneous standing ovation at the curtain call as a reward for her brilliant work in this role. Brava!

The talented actor Ryan Durkey plays Emmett, the law clerk who is sympathetic to Elle's plight and tries to help her out. He is marvelous in this role. Ryan sings "Harvard Variations" which is about how the law students ended up at the Ivy League school, sounding like the Peron song from "Evita, and also sings "Chip on Your Shoulder" which is Emmett's advice to Elle to stop thinking about Warner and concentrate on her law studies. His fantastic tenor voice soars in his numbers and he gives a winning portrayal of this kind and caring individual. Some of his comic moments include straightening up Elle's desk, getting hooked on Red Bull, wearing corduroy jackets and many other laugh out loud moments until he finally admits his love for Elle in "Legally Blonde" which leaves the audience in tears at his emotion packed rendition. Jillian and Ryan are awesome in these roles and have great chemistry together. Ann Borges as Paulette is the biggest scene stealer in this show. Her first song is "Ireland", a rousing anthem to the kind of men she is attracted to. This powerful song is majestic and her voice fills the theater with her powerhouse rendition. Some of her funny lines include "Oh my  God, the new UPS man is like walking porn" and "Cheerleaders scare me." The cheerleaders teach Paulette how to "Bend and Snap"  a sure fire way to attract a straight man. Ann displays her strong jazz voice in this song, winning thunderous applause. She and Aaron who does double duty in the show, playing Kyle, the UPS man, do a dynamic Irish step dance in "Legally Blonde" when she finds out Kyle is Irish.

Matt Morin is smarmy as Professor Callahan, who is tough as nails with his students. He displays his baritone voice in "Blood in the Water" when he assigns reading for the first class, ruling them with fear, shock and awe. In the second act Matt sings "Whipped into Shape" about defending the exercise queen. Later in the trial Callahan wonders if Carlos is gay or European and sings with the ensemble in "There, Right There" which sounds like a Gilbert and Sullivan song. Later on he tries to put the moves on Elle and get her fired from Brooke's case but Callahan finally gets his comeuppance. Tall, dark and handsome Robin Weldon plays Warner, the rich cad-like boyfriend that dumps Elle. Thereby setting in motion her desire to become a lawyer to try to win him back. Warner takes up with the snooty, Vivienne at Harvard. Robin's strong baritone voice is heard in the duets "Serious" with Jillian. He also has a funny scene where Elle defeats him in a debate and Callahan demands Warner to get him some coffee. Kasey Jeronimo as Vivienne, first appears as a bitch on wheels, having Elle thrown out of class, lying to her to dress up for a costume party and treating her like dirt. However later on she turns over a new leaf and sings a rock verse of "Legally Blonde remix", displaying her strong soprano voice. Kasey makes the transition from hard hearted shrew to nicer person with ease.

Tracy Fiore plays Brooke and does a show stopping jump rope dance to "Whipped Into Shape" where they exercise which turns into an exuberant dance number. Brooke and Elle share a secret about her alibi because they are both Delta Nus. Aaron does a great job as the UPS man, Kyle, who falls in love with Paulette. His walk and strut as this ultra sexy guy is hilarious and he and Ann do an outstanding Irish step dance. Elle's cheerleader friends start the show off by singing "Omigod You Guys", a big production number with Jillian, in "What You Want" dance number brings down the house and "Positive" when they try to cheer Elle up after Warner dumps her. Later on they appear to Elle as a Greek chorus during her moments of crisis, being visible and audible only to her. Brianne Allain, Sarah Albergaria and Kennedy Ryan play Serena, Pilar and Margot and do a terrific job in these roles. The ending is a surprise and leaves the audience cheering in the aisles. Other humorous characters include Ashley Clark as Enid who has many funny one liners and Jason Gendreau-Visco as Carlos and Derek Carvalho as Nikos add much merriment to the courtroom antics with their secret agenda. Kudos to everyone who makes this show shine. So for a rollicking version of a contemporary musical, be sure to catch "Legally Blonde" at Little Theatre of Fall River. Be sure to wear your pink to the show and tell them Tony sent you.

"Legally Blonde" (14 - 17 May)
@ BCC, 777 Elsbree Street, Fall River MA

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