Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Legally Blonde"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2012 by Tony Annicone

"Legally Blonde"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Community Players opening show of their 92nd season is "Legally Blonde, the Musical". The 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 more "serious", she puts down her 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 from a murder charge. Director Kevin Brocolli creates a fantastic high energy contemporary musical with his keen insight into these comic characters. Musical director Alex Tirrell taught all the marvelous musical numbers while conducting an eight piece orchestra and plays lead keyboards. Choreographer Kerissa Kendrick supplies the terrific dance numbers that stop the show with their power and execution. Their expertise wins the cast a standing ovation at the close of the show.

Kevin's blocking of this huge cast is wonderful. Kerissa's dance numbers include hip hop, cha cha, line dance, Irish dance, marching and conga to name a few. Two of the funniest dance numbers are the exercise sequence with jump ropes and the Riverdance segment. I first reviewed Kerissa in "Little Shop of Horrors" at RIC in 2000. Alex obtains glorious harmonic blend from the cast. Stage manager, Emily Varden and her crew keep the show running smoothly all night long as does costumer Pam Jackson with her crew changing Elle's costumes constantly and quickly. Alyssa Gorgone is dynamite as Elle. She is a gorgeous blonde. Alyssa 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 wonderful voice and dancing prowess astound the audience. Alyssa'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 get accepted at Harvard, "So Much Better" when Elle 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 an UPS man, then a fabulous tear jerking duet with Emmett called "Legally Blonde" and a touching song called "Find My Way" where she finally realizes what is important in her life and wins the day. Alyssa receives a spontaneous standing ovation at curtain call as a reward for her hard work in this role. Brava!

David DeAlmo plays Emmett, the law clerk who understands Elle's plight and tries to help her. He is marvelous in this role. David sings "Harvard Variations'' which is about how the law students ended up at the Ivy League school, it sounds like "The Art of the Possible" Juan Peron's song from "Evita" and "Chip on Your Shoulder" his advice to Elle to stop thinking about her ex-boyfriend and concentrate on her law studies. His fabulous tenor voice soars in his songs as he gives a winning portrayal as this kind and caring individual. David also has some comic moments including when he cleans up Elle's desk, gets hooked on Red Bull and wears corduroy jackets but his best moment comes in the dramatic scene when Emmett finally admits his love for Elle in "Legally Blonde" which leaves the audience in tears. Alyssa and David have great chemistry together. I first reviewed David in 2005 as a high school student when he played a juror in "Twelve Angry Men". Stacey Geer as Paulette is the biggest scene stealer in the show. She is a statuesque red head and her first song is "Ireland", a rousing anthem about the kind of men she likes. This powerful song is majestic and resounds throughout the theatre. Some of her funniest 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. Stacey displays her strong jazz voice in this song, winning thunderous applause for it. She and Christoffer Larsen as Kyle do a dynamic Irish step dance in "Legally Blonde" when she finds out Kyle is Irish. Stacey is phenomenal in this role. Her husband, Greg plays Elle's father and their daughter, Samantha plays Chutney.

Geoff White is wonderfully smarmy as Professor Callahan, who is tough as nails with his students. He shows off his singing voice in "Blood in the Water''. Callahan assigns reading for the first class and rules with fear, shock and awe. In the second act, Geoff sings "Whipped Into Shape" about defending the exercise queen as well as "There, Right There" later in the trial when he wonders if Carlos is gay or European. This number is reminiscent of a Gilbert and Sullivan song and the ensemble joins in with him. Callahan puts the moves on Elle, tries to fire her from the Brooke Wyndham case but finally gets his comeuppance. Ben Royer  who is tall, blond and handsome plays Warner. Ben tackles the role of the boyfriend who dumps Elle and takes up with snooty, Vivenne. His strong voice is heard in several numbers including the "Serious" duets with Alyssa. Ben also has a comic scene where Elle defeats him in a debate and Callahan demands Warner to get him some coffee. Ben plays this jerky character wonderfully. Elizabeth Gotauco as Vivienne, first appears as a bitch on wheels, having Elle thrown out of class then lies to her to dress up for a costume party and continually treats her badly. Later on Vivienne turns over a new leaf and sings a rock version of "Legally Blonde Remix", displaying her fabulous soprano voice. Elizabeth makes the transition from hard hearted shrew to a compassionate person with ease.

Leslie Racine Vazquez plays Brooke and does a show stopping dance to "Whipped Into Shape" with the chorus jumping rope to the song. Brooke and Elle share a secret about her alibi because they are both Delta Nus. Leslie delivers the goods as this mysterious character. Tall, dark and handsome Christoffer is marvelous as Kyle, the UPS man who falls in love with Pauline. His walk and strut as this ultra sexy heartthrob is hilarious. This show is Christoffer's debut on stage. Elle's cheerleader friends start off the show with "Omigod You Guys", a huge production number with Alyssa 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 only to her. Betsy Rinaldi, Jody Siegelman and Lisa Ziniti play Margot, Pilar and Serena and do a terrific job in these roles. The ending is a surprise, leaving the audience applauding loudly. Other humorous performers are Meryn Flynn as Enid who has many funny one liners as this feminist character and shows off her strong singing voice during the show, Michael Rai as Nikos and Travis Greene as Carlos add much to the merriment to the courtroom antics with their secret agenda. Kudos to the whole cast and crew on a job very well done. So for a rollicking version of a brand new musical, be sure to catch "Legally Blonde" at Community Players. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Legally Blonde" (12 - 28 October)
@ Division Street, PAWTUCKET RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide