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OhmiGod! Legally Blonde a guilty pleasure
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OhmiGod! Legally Blonde a guilty pleasure

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

Legally Blonde, the Musical
5th Avenue Theater
Through March 14


"Ohmigod, ohmigod you guys!" Legally Blonde is a complete guilty pleasure. The music is toe-tapping. The lyrics are clever. The show is enjoyable, and the actors look like they are having as much fun on stage as the audience is watching them. What more could one ask for? Based on the 2001 film of the same name, the musical is pure entertainment, and most of all, it's fun.

The story should be quite familiar due to the popularity of the original film and its sequel. Elle Woods is a Malibu girl who dresses completely in pink and whose biggest dilemma is figuring out how to get her boyfriend (the "campus catch") Warner to propose to her. When she gets dumped for not being "serious" enough, Elle decides to make a change to follow him to Harvard Law School and win back her man. Despite her 4.0 in fashion merchandising, she obtains entry to the prestigious college only to find out that Warner already has a fiancée. At first she's crushed, but then, due to new friends Emmet and Paulette (a lawyer and a hairstylist), she excels and proves her worth not only to Warner and her schoolmates, but also to herself.

Elle (played by Becky Gulsvig) is delightful as the pink-clad blonde from Malibu. Her voice is clear and strong, and her timing is wonderful. She changes from a blonde (albeit smart) bimbette to a strong Harvard student without losing her original character's personality or charm. Gulsvig doesn't just go through the motions, she allows the audience to experience her transformation, giving us a reason to cheer her on and become charmed by her character. Paulette (Natalie Joy Johnson) is the hairstylist with a heart of gold who becomes Elle's close confidant. Her comic portrayal is delightful, whether she's encouraging Elle to fight for her man (as in the song "Ireland") or if she is flirting with her own crush, Kyle the UPS man. The fact that Johnson moved from her original Broadway role of Enid to the touring company's role of Paulette just shows how versatile an actress she can be. Professor Callahan (Michael Rupert) is the antagonist for Elle. He's a no-nonsense man who dismisses Elle at first, only to take her on as an intern when a major murder case breaks. Rupert recreates his Broadway role for the touring company and it is easy to see why he has a long, illustrious career of musical theater.

No matter how you look at it, the show is pure enjoyment. First-time Broadway composers and husband/wife team Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin have made a huge hit for their Broadway debut, along with the scriptwriter Heather Hach. The songs are catchy, and the lyrics are very smart. You gotta love a musical that boasts lyrics like: "Keep it positive / as you smack her to floor / Keep it positive / as you pull her hair and call her 'whore.'" The show pokes fun at the vapid society of Valley girls and the prestigious pompousness of Harvard, and does it without becoming a joke unto itself or clichéd. The show is very Gay-friendly posing the pivotal musical dilemma, "Is he Gay or European?" Jerry Mitchell provides his usual stellar choreography, and his pseudo-signature of lots of eye-candy - or, as Paulette calls it, "walking porn." There are big dance numbers ("What You Want" or "Whipped Into Shape") that give an audience everything a musical should offer. Come on, the "Bend and Snap" scene from the movie just screams for a musical number, and is delivered well with the camp meter ringing loudly. And for the animal lovers, both Elle's and Paulette's dogs (Bruiser and Rufus) still make appearances.

Legally Blonde, the Musical is based on the 2001 MGM film, which was in turn based on the book by Amanda Brown. Opening on Broadway April 3, 2007, the show ran for just under 600 performances. It was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score and Best Actress in a Musical. The show made history as being the first musical on Broadway to have a television broadcast (on MTV no less) while still running on the Great White Way. MTV also sponsored the reality show, Legally Blonde: The Search for Elle Woods to find a replacement for original leading lady, Laura Bell Bundy.

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