Review | Legally Blonde: zippy and zesty, if a touch contrived

Artistry Theater, through Aug 19

Angela Steele and the Ensemble of LEGALLY BLONDE. Photo by Devon Cox.

Snappy. Snazzy. Fizzy and frothy. Abrim with pizzazz and pure musical intensity. Real good. All these adjectives (and then some) apply to Artistry Theater‘s amazing production of Legally Blonde (in Artistry’s comfortable Schneiderman Theatre, through August 19).

The plot of this chestnut is a little, well, you know, it has to be said, ahem, contrived. The creepy boyfriend of our hero, Elle Woods, dumps her and heads off to Harvard Law School where he intends to do better than vacuous Valley Girl Elle. Righteously p***ed off, Elle applies to Harvard and is admitted. In lieu of a personal statement, Elle performs a passionately choreographed, show-stopping musical number (she performs a plethora of these throughout Legally Blonde) and the committee, flummoxed, lets her in. What else can they do?

Once in, Elle takes the evil (isn’t he?) Professor Callahan’s class, befriends a number of her follow students, becomes one of Callahan’s interns (maybe he isn’t that evil), lets Paulette the hair expert talk her out of becoming a brunette, reacts to Callahan’s hitting on her by slapping his face (maybe he is evil), gets involved in Brooke Wyndham’s murder case, sings her heart out innumerable times. And matures. Grows up. Bless her. She’s our Elle.

Legally Blonde (music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin; book by Heather Hach; based on the novel by Amanda Brown and, of course, the MGM movie) is not a great masterpiece. But under the firm direction of Angela Timberman, the cast and crew make up for the show’s shortcomings by performing Legally Blonde with astonishing zest, zeal and zip. As Elle, Angela Steele is diminutive, but powerful, with genuine music theater presence. And blonde hair. Paul R. Coate excels as Prof Callahan. Dorian Brooke is terrific as Brooke. Others worth mentioning include David Beukema (his turn as a dorky golfer is priceless), Mary Palazzolo as the passionate Paulette, Alec Leonard as the self-centered boyfriend with the perfect hair, etc. Everyone is very good.

Okay: you could take out a second mortgage and go see Mamma Mia.

Or: you could go to Legally Blonde, buy the (relatively) moderately priced ticket, take advantage of the easy (and free) parking and sit in the comfy theater and let the show’s up-energy music wash over you. I firmly recommend the latter.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. John’s The Voice Of The Prairie has been performed 100 plus times and ditto Minnesota Moon and his adaptation of Sideways Stories From Wayside School. Please visit John’s informational website.


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