Review: ‘Legally Blonde The Musical’

Jul. 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

BY JANE KERNS / Special to the Star-Advertiser

The dog days of summer have arrived with Diamond Head Theatre’s “hot” offering, “Legally Blonde The Musical” – complete with a four-legged scene-stealer. Pomeranian pooch Bobby Gorgeous is undoubtedly the cutest actor ever to grace Honolulu’s boards.

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‘Legally Blonde The Musical’

Presented by Diamond Head Theatre

» Where: Diamond Head Theatre, 520 Makapuu Ave.
» When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 11; also 3 p.m. July 27 and Aug. 3
» Cost: $15-$50
» Info: (808) 733-0274 or www.diamondheadtheatre.com

Not that he outshines his non-canine co-star Jody Bill, destined to fill the pink pumps of protagonist Elle Woods. Bill skillfully blends sweetness and spunkiness, vitality and vulnerability, while delivering rock solid vocals in the majority of the show’s numbers.

The plot transports Elle, a perky blonde Valley Girl and UCLA sorority president, to Harvard Law School to pursue her boyfriend after he derails her hoped-for marriage proposal to seek a “serious” relationship. Elle’s eventual success as a savvy legal intern is predictable, given a story that advocates staying true to oneself, and expressing personal power.

Capping off DHT’s women-focused season, “Legally Blonde, the Musical” is even more fun than the 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon. The 2007 musical captured 595 performances on Broadway. Drawn from Amanda Brown’s novel, the book by Heather Hach and music and lyrics by husband/wife team Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin embellish the dialogue and add action-packed numbers.

Screen to stage adaptations, popularized by Disney and several other major studios, satisfy a theatergoer’s desire to see favorite stories and characters come alive. DHT has offered several recently, and “Legally Blonde” is the perfect vehicle for slick, clever performance numbers.

NYC guest director Andrew Sakaguchi and former Broadway dancer and local choreographer Christine Yasunaga amp up the witty show, using their super-charged cast to deliver the goods. A Greek chorus of Delta Nus arrives for each mini-crisis. Energy erupts in dance numbers that feature cheerleading, rope jumping, and ‘bend and snapping.’ Musical director Alethea Train and her instrumental ensemble solidly support the continuous whirl of activity. The band’s volume level occasionally obscures the stage voices for patrons seated in the theatre’s right section. Hopefully this can be quickly remedied.

Stereotypical characters need consummate performers to pull them off. Laurence Paxton as the pompous and unethical Professor Callahan, and Megan Mount as the lovelorn but lustful hairdresser Paulette, delight the audience with their acting and vocal talents. David Bachler as Elle’s good-looking though shallow boyfriend Warner, and Joel Libed as the sharp, sensitive legal assistant turn in solid performances and keep things grounded. As the dramatic exercise queen, Samantha Stoltzfus performs a super-charged “Whipped Into Shape.” Brittany Browning is believable and nuanced as Warner’s uptight fiancé.

The design team adds just the right amount of pink to showcase Elle. Willie Sabel unveils an utterly pink Harvard bedroom, and Karen Wolfe glamorizes her in the color from boots to sweats to suits. Wolfe’s costumes identify who’s who onstage with the sorority sisters awash in bolds, the Harvardians in ‘camouflage chic,’ and other creative homogeneous groupings. Friston Hoʻokano’s hair concoctions are cute and campy, particularly in beauty parlor and courtroom scenes.

Sakaguchi and many former DHT Shooting Stars have returned to showcase high-caliber local talent, offering an irresistible treat for all ages. Indulge.
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Jane Kerns is a doctoral student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, holds degrees in theatre and vocal performance and has performed as an actor and singer in New York City.

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