Theatre Mirror Review>"Legally Blonde"

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entire contents copyright 2016 by Tony Anniocone

"Legally Blonde"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Footlight Rep's Jr. Division's winter show is "Legally Blonde Jr." which is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the movie with the same name. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl from Delta Nu who is the college sweetheart and homecoming girl 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 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 version opened in April 29, 2007 and ran until October 19, 2008. Directors Neil Jeronimo and Tricia Rodrigues create a fantastic high energy contemporary musical with their keen insight into these comic characters while choreographer Brian Barry Periera's terrific dance numbers stop the show with their power and excellent execution. Musical director Kasey Jeronimo taught the 39 cast members from ages 5 to 17 all the marvelous musical numbers. Their combined expertise captures the hearts of the audience members from start to finish with an outstanding musical production which wins a spontaneous standing ovation at the close of the show.

Neil and Tricia's blocking of this huge show is fantastic while Barry's marvelous dances include hip hop, cha cha, line dance, Irish dance, exercise dance, marching and conga to name a few. Two of the funniest dance numbers are the exercise dance with jump ropes and the Riverdance segment. Kasey makes these young performers sound brilliant with their vocals. Leading this huge cast is Isabella Manchester as Elle. She is a pretty blonde and is dynamite in this role. Isabella appears in almost every scene of this musical and makes the transition from bubbleheaded sorority girl into serious novice lawyer excellently. Her unbelievable voice and dancing prowess astound the audience. Isabella's many numbers include "Omigod You Guys, "Daughter of Delta Nu", "What You Want", "So Much Better", "Bend and Snap" as well as the emotionally draining numbers "Legally Blonde" and "Find My Way." She receives a resound standing ovation at her astounding performance. Brava!

Derek Alexander plays Emmett, the law clerk who understands Elle's plight and tries to help her out. He is marvelous in this role and displays his voice in "Chip on Your Shoulder." This song is about Elle forgetting about Warner and concentrate on her studies. He gives a winning portrayal of this character who wears corduroy pants and has many laugh out loud moments until Emmett finally admits his love for Elle in "Legally Blonde" which leaves the audience in tears. Makenna Beaudoin as Paulette is the biggest scene stealer in this show. She mesmerizes you with her first number "Ireland" which is a rousing anthem about the kind of men she likes. This powerful number resounds throughout the theatre. One of her comic lines include "Cheerleaders scare me." However the cheerleaders teach Paulette how to attract a man with "Bend and Snap" a sure fire way to attract a man. Makenna displays her jazz voice in this number and shows off her dancing skills with Matt Macy as the UPS man in "Legally Blonde" with their Riverdance steps in which the chorus eventually joins in.

Stephen Conos is wonderfully smarmy as Professor Callahan who is tough as nails with his students. He positively scares the students as he assigned reading for the first class and rules them with shock and awe. Later on he sings "Whipped Into Shape" when they are defending the exercise queen. Later on after he puts the moves on her and tries to fire Elle from the case, Callahan receives his comeuppance from Brooke and Emmett. Ethan Carvalho plays the rich cad like boyfriend, Warner. He dumps Elle to take up with snooty, Vivienne. Ethan's strong voice is heard in the "Serious" duet with Elle. He also has a comic scene when Elle defeats him in a debate. Kate Hallal first appears very mean and condescending as Vivienne, having Elle thrown out of class, tells her to dress up for a costume party which isn't one and just treats her like dirt every time they meet. Later on she turns over a new leaf during the rock verse of "Legally Blonde" which displays her soprano range. Kate makes the transition from hard hearted shrew to kinder person with ease when she eventually accepts Elle.

Stephanie Baxter plays Brooke and she and the chorus do a show stopping exuberant dance to "Whipped Into Shape" that has to be seen to be believed with jump ropes. Brooke and Elle share a secret about her alibi that she is also a Delta Nu. Matt Macy is terrific as Kyle, the UPS man who falls in love with Paulette. His walk and strut as this ultra sexy guy is hilarious. He and Makenna do a show stopping Irish step dance. Jillian Levesque, Emma Guilotte and Sydney Rutowski as Serena Pilar and Margot do a marvelous job as Elle's cheerleader friends. They start off the show with "Omigod You Guys" and also do "What You Want", Elle's essay to get accepted into Harvard. The whole cast does a wonderful job with their dancing and singing prowess. Other scene stealers include Emily Marshall as Enid, who has many funny one liners, Alessandra Maldonado as Chutney, Brooke's naughty stepdaughter, Ashton Peters as the Prison guard and Kevin Swanson as Dewey, Paulette's dog stealing former husband. So for a high energy feel good musical extravaganza, be sure to catch "Legally Blonde Jr." at Morton Middle School in Fall River. Hurry up and call for tickets because the show will definitely be sold out in no time at all. Make sure you catch it before the cast dances out of town for good. The opening night performance had over 300 appreciative audience members.

"Legally Blonde JR>" (15 & 16 January)
@ Junior Division, Morton Middle School, 1135 North Main Street, FALL RIVER MA

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