LEGALLY BLONDE Holds Court at Milburn Stone Theatre

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The Cast of LEGALLY BLONDE running at Milburn Stone Theatre. (Photo credit: Scott Serio, Cecil Scene)

While I like and appreciate a variety of theatrical genres, admittedly my favorite guilty pleasure is a musical comedy. Add great voices and engaging choreography and you have made my night. Add boundless energy and a driving pace to the mix and you have Milburn Stone Theatre’s current production LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL!

The successful 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon is the story of Elle, a Malibu sorority girl who fights her way into Harvard Law School to win back the guy she loves. In 2007, the musical stage show version debuted on Broadway and played nearly 600 shows before closing.  More recently, the show has become a hit with regional and community theatres.

With a cast of 40 people and 2 dogs (yes, I said dogs), I can’t possibly mention everyone by name, even though they deserve it.  Director S. Lee Lewis has what every director wishes for, an energetic ensemble with no visible weak links.  Every member of the cast contributes to the success of this production.

Sam Emerson as Elle, Diva as Bruiser in a scene from Milburn Stone Theatre’s LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL. (Photo credit: Scott Serio, Cecil Scene)

Sam Emerson, with her great voice, comic timing, and looks not too dissimilar from Witherspoon’s is a great choice for the role of Elle.  It is a delight watching her character’s development through the course of the show. Her chemistry with both Elle’s former boyfriend Warner (Russell Matthews) and her new found friend Emmett (Anthony Vitalo) is palpable.  Matthews for his part pulls off the cocky, shallow Warner admirably.

Vitalo, too, shows great character development and a wonderful comfort and confidence in a leading man role which could easily be overshadowed by Elle. Instead, Emerson and Vitalo strike a fine balance which is exhibited best in their duets in both the title song and “Chip on My Shoulder”. Both songs allow their vocal abilities to shine.

But the real sizzle in this production comes from Bambi Johnson’s choreography. Ranging from fun cheerleader routines and Jamaican dances, to Irish step dancing, hip hop and even aerobics (Would the term “Jazzercize” date me?), this show is bursting at the seams with high energy numbers that make you want to stand up and join in! It is entertainment at its finest!

This production also includes tremendous vocals, both soloists and ensemble. A few of the soloists in the ensemble though need to enunciate just a little more to be better heard. The sets make great use of the space on stage…and beyond (nice touch).

Two of the members of the cast, Diva and Summit, make great impressions on the audience. They play their roles well and show great subtlety and depth of character, though they seem to decline to sing along (unless there were just no Alpo parts to sing).

Tiara Whaley, Sarah Sickles, Colleen Scott, Megan Valle, Sydney Hastain & Jen Huovinen as The Greek Chorus in Milburn Stone’s LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL, running in North East, MD through September 2. (Photo credit: Scott Serio, Cecil Scene)

If you are looking for an intense, intellectually deep show with a lot of literary meat on its bones, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for 2 hours of toe-tapping, belly laughing, free-spirited feel-good fun to take your mind of the rigors of the week, then don’t miss this production of LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL!  The house was a virtual sell-out, so make sure you reserve your tickets in advance or you may be out of luck!

LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL runs August 24, 25, 31 and September 1 at 8pm, and August 26 and September 2 at 3pm. Tickets are $18.

LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL
Book by Heather Hach
Music & Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin
Directed by S. Lee Lewis
Musical Direction by Marji Eldreth
Choreography by Bambi Johnson
August 24 – September 2, 2012
Milburn Stone Theatre
Cecil College
1 Seahawk Dr.
North East, MD
410-287-1037
www.milburnstone.org

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Chris Laning

Chris Laning

Chris Laning has been involved with theatre for almost 30 years. He has appeared in or directed numerous high school, college, and community theatre productions. Among his favorite roles were that of "Pseudolus" in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED..., and "Jesus" in both GODSPELL and SUPERSTAR. Chris was the Director of the Trinity Players in Mullica Hill, NJ from 1997 to 2007 where he directed nine musical productions. He has appeared in productions for other companies including Road Company, Sketch Club, and Chapel Street Players. In 2009, his festival entry for Chapel Street Players took top honors at the Delaware Theatre Association festival and placed third at the ESTA Regional Festival. In 2009 he helped found Inner Light Theatre in Newark, DE and directed the first two productions (GODSPELL and JOSEPH…). In addition to his active stage work, from 2006 to 2009, Chris produced and co-hosted the national community theatre podcast "Your Neighborhood Stage", where he interviewed representatives from theatre companies in nearly every state in the Union. He was also the producer and host of the "AACTFest Update" podcast for both the 2007 and 2009 American Association of Community Theatre's national festivals. Chris recently moved to Elkton, MD. He also has two wonderful children who also are interested in various aspects of theatre. He is a web developer for an internet retail website in Wilmington, active with the Boy Scouts of America, and sings regularly with the choirs of Elkton United Methodist Church.

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