LEGALLY BLONDE, New Candlelight Theatre’s spring offering, is one of those shows that might sound less great than it really is. The musical is based on the popular 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon (which is based on the novel by Amanda Brown). Like the film, the musical is fun and quirky, only with highly catchy songs and raging choreography. It’s actually quite a bit funnier than the movie, I think, and while I personally wouldn’t rate the movie as one of my favorites, the musical has become a standout in my mind.
Taylor Elise Rector plays Elle Woods, the Malibu sorority sister who, after being dumped by her aspiring politician boyfriend, Warner (Will Connell), for not being “serious” enough, uses her underestimated intelligence to get into Harvard Law School to impress him. Far from her comfort zone, Elle is suddenly a misfit, who, with the help of new friends Emmett (Caleb Whipple), a teaching assistant with a working class background, and Paulette (Jennie Knackstedt), a down-on-her-luck hairdresser, finds her true calling in life (hint: It’s not Warner). Also guiding her is a “Greek chorus” made up of her UCLA sorority sisters, who only she (and later Paulette) can see. Her biggest foils are Harvard elite mean girl Vivienne (Stevie Woodring), who also happens to be Warner’s Jackie O-like girlfriend, and the agenda-driven Professor Callahan (Fernando Gonzalez).
The NTC cast — which includes an ensemble too large to name individually, is just right at every turn. As Elle, Rector offers it all: the Barbie doll look, impeccable comic timing, fantastic dance skills, and a spot-on voice. Knackstedt’s Paulette is a scene stealer with her solo man-lament “Ireland” and the ensemble piece “Bend and Snap.” Whipple is sweet as Emmett, and Connell plays likable enough that you believe he and Elle were once good together, but not so much that you want her to go back with him. Also standing out is Kelly Boekle as Brooke Wyndham, the alleged murderer and exercise guru who becomes Elle’s first client.
The sorority sisters/Greek chorus each have a distinct personality, even though we only see them as a group. This is a very woman-oriented show, and the women play a variety of types, from the hard-edged lesbian Enid (Janine Morella) to party girls, Ivy League elites to townies. Ultimately, the story doesn’t pit them against each other, with even Vivienne becoming a sympathetic character. Elle shows that a woman can be smart and entirely feminine; the production proves, once again, that NCT puts on musicals in the woods in Arden that rival their major city and touring company counterparts.
Ticket prices include a dinner buffet. Cash bar available.
LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL
by Heather Hatch
Music and Lyrics by: Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin
Directed by Dan Dunn
Choreography by Dan Dunn
Music Direction: Trevor Pierce
April 5 – May 19, 2013
New Candlelight Theatre
2208b Millers Rd,
Ardentown, DE 19810