Monday, July 30, 2018

(OMIGOD!) New Village Arts “Legally Blonde” Is A Trip!

If you love fluff, fun and lots of high energy, “Legally Blonde, The Musical” is just what our high-powered Hahvahd Lawyers ordered.

 “Legally Blonde The Musical” earned seven 2007 Tony Awards is zippy, fast paced, high-spirited and fun for the whole family. 
Cast of "Legally Blond"
This is New Village Arts Theatre’s eighteenth season opener. It is directed by artistic director Kristianne Kurner and set on Christopher Scott Murillo’s multi purpose design including sorority house and Harvard campus (sort of) hair salon and court room.

With music by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hatch ‘LB’ is based on the 2001 Metro-Golden-Mayer film of Amanda Brown’s novel “Legally Blonde”. In 2007 it moved from pre-Broadway tryouts in San Francisco to the Palace Theatre on Broadway where it grossed over a million dollars.
Trevor Rex, Allyce, Catie Marron (center) Joel Miller, Gina Maria Cioffi
This production is highly physical with Kyle Hawk’s choreography that is some of the best seen on a relatively small stage in some time. It wore me out just watching some of the guys and gals going through an exercise jump rope number starring Catie Marron as Brooke Wyndham the workout queen. Just watching her and dance ensemble jump rope to “Whipped Into Shape”(for what must have been at least 10 minutes) was an OMG moment for me.

The show boasts eighteen to twenty musical and dance numbers bringing the production to almost three hours. Some including the whole Irish bit could be shaved off shortening the piece by at least fifteen minutes making it a bit more… well easy to sit through.

Under the musical direction of Tony Houk, who is a hoot when he steps away from the keyboards to make a Cameo appearance as ‘THE’ gay boyfriend Carlos, the music sounds fine (sometimes a bit loud) with TJ Fucella’s sound design.  
Danielle Levas and Sittichai Chaiyahat
The long and winding story, filled with stereotypes from beginning to end has spunky, energetic and cheerful Elle Woods, (sylphlike, Danielle Levas) as a recent graduate of UCLA with a degree in fashion Design/merchandizing.

She was homecoming queen whose favorite color is pink. What’s there not to like about being rich, living in Malibu and just about one of the most popular and respected Delta Nu’s on campus? That’s our leading lady’s MO. (“Omigod You Guys”)

And what could you find wrong with her handsome and wealthy but dull boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Cody Ingram) who really, really loves her and is expected to propose on their next dinner date?  He’s headed off to Harvard to get his law degree and then plans to run for and become a senator by the time he’s thirty (“Serious”)

Bad news for our Elle. It seems that Mr. Worthington III doesn’t see our sweet little Miss Woods in his future because she’s just not ‘serious’ enough (“Serious”), nor is she a Vanderbilt. (“I’m from Malibu. I’m not exactly trailer trash.)

Warner needs to be with someone whose name is Muffy or Fluffy (a girl who is serious, lawyerly and wears black when nobody’s dead) of the Vanderbilt clan that his family decides is ‘right’. So he breaks off the engagement, heads back east (where all the girls have different noses) to Harvard Law School and Vivienne Kensington (Cassie Bleher) his new girlfriend, another law student who is as up tight as Elle is easy.

Not to be out done, Elle decides she too will go to Harvard Law School and show Warner how important she can be throwing the ‘Dumb Blonde’ strerotype out the window proving that she too can be ‘serious’.

 With the help of her sorority sisters/ her Greek Chorus, she jams, takes the entrance exams. With a letter of recommendation from none other than Oprah (huh?) she makes the cut and is accepted to Harvard Law School. Swayed by ‘cultural diversity’ and in the interest of love the admissions board gives her a chance to make good.
L to R: Erin Vanderhyde, Danielle Levas and Allyce
She heads off to Harvard with her pet dog Bruiser. She is dressed (Samantha Viscos) to the nines in pinks and that includes, among other things a pink Playboy Bunny costume with ears to match to slinky and very tight fitting dresses as she proceeds to make a big splash on campus showing off in what nust be her size 2 .

As can be predicted, Elle scores big in her classes even though she doesn’t fit in right away with her classmates. With some help and support from her Delta Nu’s (“Positive”) some new friends and legal assistant Emmett Forrest, she soon realizes her potential. In the process she comes up with some real, honest to goodness legal terms like “I Object” “Exhibit ‘A’ and “Your Honor, may I approach?”

Her new admirer, alumni teaching assistant Emmett Forrest (handsome and steady Sittichai Chaiyahat) who mentors her through her rough personal and professional ups and downs convinces her that she has more potential than she credits herself for and encourages her to use her determination to succeed to become a serious student and change her priorities. (“So Much Better”)

He helps ground her and shows her that with her ‘can do attitude’ she can break through typecast. She finally realizes that she can make a difference. (“Legally Blonde”). He also helps her out when the sleaze professor and maker and breaker of careers, Callahan (Steven Freitas) sexually abuses her. 

But in the end, should I say 'all's well that ends well'? Well, it does. 
Danielle Levas, Erin Vanderhyde, Cody Ingram, Cassie Bleher, (seated) Stevan Freitas, Catie Marron and Sittichhai Chaiyahat.
Shout out’s to Marlene Montes as Paulette, who is a hoot and a half, the hairdresser (in the Harvard Yard?) and salon owner, on whose shoulder Elle gets to cry in a turn about is fair play when Paulette needs some help herself from her lazy ex, Dewy (Trevor Rex) who has custody of their dog Rufus. (Yup, there are 3 dogs. Bruiser, Rufus and Bubba all well behaved.)

Joel Miller nearly brings the house down in his Fed Ex delivery outfit, brown shorts, short sleeve shirt and long muscular legs. As most in the audience did, Paulette couldn’t contain herself, which led to the hilarious “Bend and Snap” number. OMG!

Elle’s sorority sisters Serena, Margot, Pilar, Kate, (Gina Maria Cioffi, Allyce, Molly O’Meara and Erin Vanderhyde) all worked their little Alice B Toklas’ off singing dancing and supporting their Delta Nu sister.
Danielle  Levas (center) 
Listening to the reception it received opening night at NVA, Broadway and the movies aren’t the only places it’s been appreciated. I didn’t see one frown on the face of anyone exiting the theatre. In fact both young and old alike seemed bubbling over with enthusiasm and chattering up a storm.  

(Eighteen in Hebrew is Chai or Life and NVA is breathing new life into a fun filled, just what the doctor ordered for sweltering summer nights, evening of theatre.)


See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through Sept. 9th
Organization: New Village Arts Theatre
Phone: 760-433-3245
Production Type: Musical Comedy
Where: 2787 State Street, Carlsbad Village, Carlsbad, CA
Ticket Prices: $44.00-$47.00
Photo: Daren Scott

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