Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: (Vancouver) Legally Blonde

Light and fluffy and totally entertaining
TUTS remount isn’t perfect, but it’s still fun to watch
by Chris Lane

Just in case you thought the movie wasn’t campy enough, Legally Blonde: The Musical features even more pink and even more squeals, right from the energetic first number, Omigod You Guys.

It’s about as peppy as you would expect, but also somewhat formulaic and predictable. And yet it’s hard not to cheer for Elle, delightfully played by Reese Witherspoon’s doppelganger, Jocelyn Gauthier.

Elle’s an upbeat sorority girl through and through, until the love of her life leaves her to study at Harvard Law, saying he needs someone more “serious” (even his singing voice sounds full of itself, as played by Peter Cumins). Elle, not one to let love pass her by, decides to win back her man by applying to the same program – successfully, somehow.

It’s a cheery and quirky story about staying true to yourself to realize your full potential. It’s simplistic, but definitely fun, and consistently funny, particularly with campy hits like Gay or European, and the famous Bend and Snap.

It’s not the most polished production, with occasional false steps and at least one obvious technical glitch. In the challenging jump-rope choreography of Whipped Into Shape, it just took a few mistakes to make it look messy – but hopefully it was just opening-night nerves, as the number could look really fantastic without the stumbles.

Gauthier carries the production in the lead role, with spot-on Malibu flair, charming the crowd as the airhead who turns out to be smarter than she looks. Cathy Wilmot is very funny and memorable as she reprises her role of Paulette, adding to both the comic relief and the play’s heart. Warren Kimmel and Scott Walters both deliver strong performances as the tough professor, Callahan, and the caring and helpful senior student, Emmett.

The music is good, performed by strong singers and musicians, but without any real show-stoppers, as the comedy turns are the real highlights. The musical numbers have sharp choreography, featuring a large and talented cast of young performers without any weak links.

Legally Blonde is a good choice for Theatre Under the Stars, as it’s light, summery fare, and they deliver with a fun, high-energy show – clearly it paid off last year, as they chose to remount the show for the first time in the company’s history. This production has heart, thanks to strong performances by Gauthier and Wilmot, and enough silliness to make it sparkle like Elle’s glitter-covered notebook.

July 12 - August 23

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