Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Legally Blonde"

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entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Legally Blonde"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

North Shore Music Theatre's latest blockbuster musical is "Legally Blonde". This show is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl from Delta Nu who is the college sweetheart and homecoming queen who doesn't take no for an answer. So when her boyfriend, Warner dumps her for someone 'serious', Elle puts down the credit cards, hits the books, and heads for Harvard Law School to win him back. Along the way, Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style. She discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others and defends fitness guru, Brooke Wyndham. The Broadway production opened in April, 2007 and ran until October 19, 2008. Director/choreographer Nick Kenkel creates a fantastic high energy contemporary musical with his keen insight into these comic characters and his terrific dance numbers stop the show with their power and excellent execution. Musical director Eric Alsford taught all the marvelous musical numbers while conducting his topnotch 10 piece orchestra and playing lead keyboards. They provide NSMT audiences with a musical masterpiece of a show with "Legally Blonde, capturing the hearts of the crowd from start to finish.

Bill Hanney, the new owner of NSMT provides excellent technical staff for his shows especially the costume and scenic designers for this fabulous show. Nick's blocking is marvelous as are his dance numbers which include hip hop, cha cha, line dance, Irish dance, thera-band exercise dance, marching and conga to name a few. All of his choreography is splendid and this marks his debut as a director of a musical. Two of the funniest dance numbers are the exercise sequence with karate moves and jumping jacks and the Riverdance segment. Eric obtains glorious harmonic blend from the cast. Kelly Felthous is dynamite as Elle. She is a gorgeous blonde. Kelly appears in almost every scene of this musical and makes the transition from blonde bubble-head sorority girl into a serious novice lawyer beautifully . Her unbelievable voice and dancing prowess astound the audience. Kelly's numbers include "Omigod You Guys" where she thinks she is getting engaged to Warner, "Daughter of Delta Nu" where she gets a pep talk from her sorority sisters, "What You Want" (which sounds like "Right in Front of Your Eyes" from "The 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" where she teaches Paulette how to attract a UPS man, then a tear jerking duet with Emmett called "Legally Blonde" and "Find My Way" a touching song where she finally realizes what is important in her life and wins the day. Kelly receives a spontaneous standing ovation at the curtain call as a reward for her hard work in this role. I last reviewed Kelly as Kathy Seldon in "Singing in the Rain" at NSMT in 2006. It was her first professional acting job at 19 years old.

Barrett Hall plays Emmett, the law clerk who understands Elle's plight and tries to help her out. He is terrific in this role and sings "Harvard Variations" which is about how the law students ended up at the Ivy League school (It sounds like the Peron song from "Evita") and in "Chip on Your Shoulder" Emmett's advice for Elle to stop thinking about her ex-boyfriend and concentrate on her law studies. His fabulous tenor voice soars in his songs and he gives a winning portrayal of this kind and caring individual. As Emmett, he cleans up her desk, gets hooked on red bull, wears corduroy jackets and has many laugh out loud moments until he finally admits he loves Elle in "Legally Blonde" which leaves the audience in tears. Kelly and Barrett are awesome in these roles and have great chemistry together. Gaelen Gilliand as Paulette is the biggest scene stealer in the show. She is a gorgeous red head and her first song is "Ireland", a rousing anthem about the kind of men she likes. The powerful song sounds majestic and resounds throughout the theatre. 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 attract a man in "Bend and Snap", a sure fire way to attract a straight man. Gaelen shows off her strong jazz voice in this number, winning thunderous applause at the end of it. She and Timothy Hughes as Kyle do a dynamic Irish step dance in "Legally Blonde" when she finds out Kyle is Irish. Nick also has the ensemble doing this majestic dance number.

Paul Jackel is smarmy as Professor Callahan, who is tough as nails with his students. He shows off his baritone voice in "Blood in the Water". He assigns reading for the first class and rules with fear and shock and awe. In the second act he sings "Whipped Into Shape" about defending the exercise queen. Later in the trial he wonders if Carlos is Gay or European and sings "There, Right There" with the ensemble. The song sounds like a Gilbert and Sullivan type number. Later on he puts the moves on Elle, trying to fire her from the Brooke Wyndham case but he gets his comeuppance. Will Ray plays Warner and is tall, blond and handsome, Will tackles the role of a boyfriend who dumps Elle and takes up with snooty, Vivienne. His strong baritone voice is heard in several numbers including the "Serious" duets with Kelly. He also a funny scene where Elle defeats him in a debate and Callahan demands he get him some coffee. Will usually plays good guys in shows but he is a jerky character in this show. Kate Loprest as Vivienne first appears as a bitch on wheels, having Elle thrown out of class, tells her to dress up for a costume party and treats her like dirt. Later turns a new leaf and sings a rock verse of "Legally Blonde Remix", showing off her strong soprano voice. Kate makes the transition from hard hearted shrew to a kinder person with ease.

Taryn Darr plays Brooke and does a show stopping dance to "Whipped Into Shape" while using thera-bands which turns into an exuberant dance number. She and Elle share a secret about her alibi because they are both Delta Nus.Timothy Forest who is over six feet tall, is marvelous as Kyle, the UPS man who falls in love with Pauline. His walk and strut as this ultra sexy guy is hilarious. They do an outstanding Irish step dance. Elle's cheerleader friends start off the show in "Omigod You Guys", a huge production number with Kelly and in "What You Want", and "Positive" when they try to cheer Elle up after Warner dumps her. They then appear to Elle in her moments of crisis as a Greek Chorus throughout the show, being visible and audible to only her. Tiffany Engen, Allysa Shorte, and Sara Andreas play Serena, Pilar and Margot and do a terrific job in these roles. The ending is a surprise, leaving the audience cheering in the aisles. Other humorous scene stealers are local Trish LaRose from Westboro as Enid who has many funny one-liners, Frankie Paparone as Nikos and Ian Campayno as Carlos add much merriment to the courtroom antics with their secret agenda. Kudos to everyone who make this show shine. So for a rollicking version of a brand new spectacular musical, be sure to catch "Legally Blonde" at NSMT. Tell them Tony sent you. Make sure you wear pink when you go to the show~!

"Legally Blonde" (1 - 13 November)
@ 62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide