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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 21, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 38
A favorable verdict for Legally Blonde
Arts & Entertainment
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A favorable verdict for Legally Blonde

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL
SEATTLE MUSICAL THEATRE
Through October 7


Legally Blonde was an adorable movie with Reese Witherspoon starring as a California sorority girl who stumbles into Harvard Law School for all the wrong reasons and finds out that she's worth more than her blonde locks and matching Prada shoes would ever have indicated.

Heather Hach (book), along with Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin (music and lyrics), later took the 2001 film to Broadway, keeping the cheeky fun intact and adding adorable songs and bouncy rhythms. Seattle Musical Theatre is mounting the production with a versatile, vibrant pink set by director/choreographer Sam Pettit and laudable costumes by Jocelyne Fowler.

Director Pettit excels at choreography, as is evident from the opening number, 'Omigod You Guys,' which sets the tone for the evening. He keeps the rhythm going so that the show, which clocks in around 2½ hours, doesn't feel overlong. He also milks the in-between moments effectively, giving several characters fun bits to exaggerate.

The basic story has sorority senior Elle Woods (Carly Hebert) thinking that her boyfriend, Warner, is finally going to put a ring on it - but instead, he dumps her because he thinks she's not 'serious' enough to be wife material. Since he's going to Harvard Law, Elle decides to show him she is serious by applying to the school herself - and after almost flunking out, she actually gets serious about honing her heretofore less-seriously-applied smarts.

Still, the story allows Elle to be Elle, and to apply her completely unique powers of observation and conclusion to win the day. Part of the fun is hearing her approach to legal arguments.

Elle has two main supporters: hairdresser Paulette (Ellen Dessler) and a grad student, Emmett (Matt Giles), who see potential in her that she doesn't realize herself. Warner (Mark Tyler Miller) has a new girlfriend, Vivienne (Kate Sumpter), who is the epitome of 'serious' and dresses all in black. There is also a terrifying law professor (J. Stegar Thompson) whose disdain for Elle ultimately propels her to succeed in spite of him.

Hebert and Giles do a solid job in the lead roles, and several smaller roles deserve note. Dessler is a very funny scene-stealer with a big belt. Thompson shows strong vocal talent and is suitably pompous. Miller handles the sleazy boyfriend role very well, and Sumpter fulfills the slightly nasty role of Vivienne with panache.

But the real kudos of the evening goes to Erika Zabelle, who plays a defendant who is an exercise mogul. She has to dance and sing while jumping rope (as does the ensemble) and be believable while doing it. It's great choreography and perfect casting.

Legally Blonde is a fun and energetic production, although the musicality is not up to SMT's usual standards. Also, the technicians need to be careful not to over-amp the band to the detriment of the singing and dialogue on stage.

For more information, go to www.seattlemusicaltheatre.org or call (206) 363-4807.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.

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