North Carolina Theatre would have been hard-pressed to find a more upbeat way to end its 2012 season than with Legally Blonde the Musical, a thoroughly giddy little production that is a must-see for audience members of all ages. Fans of the 2001 Reese Witherspoon hit know the story of Elle Woods all too well. She is a beautiful blonde with an even more beautiful brain—one filled with knowledge on fashion and hair care and, as it turns out, on law. Elle enrolls at Harvard to regain the love of ex-boyfriend Warren, but she ends up finding independence and a true love for the most important person of all—herself. The stage version adds even more fun and silliness with hilarious musical numbers and a cheesy “Greek” chorus made up of Elle’s sorority sisters. It also takes a more in-depth look at many of the characters, especially Elle’s good friend (and maybe more!) Emmett.
Cast in the starring role of Elle is the delightfully adorable Autumn Hurlbert, who lends just the right balance of brains and beauty to make Elle absolutely unforgettable. She is backed by a strong supporting cast. Standouts include Kathy Fitzgerald’s wonderfully trashy Paulette, a lovelorn hairdresser with whom Elle becomes fast friends; Michelle London’s understated, demure Vivienne, Elle’s preppy rival; and Hailey Best’s energetic portrayal of Brooke, a workout guru whom Elle defends in court. The real scene stealers, however, are the incredibly well-trained and utterly adorable animal stars—Chico as Elle’s purse-sized pooch Bruiser, and Nellie as Paulette’s much-loved Rufus.
Aside from all the lovely, strong-voiced ladies, the choreography and the costumes are to die for. Musical numbers, especially the much-applauded “Bend and Snap,” come to life thanks to bold, perfectly chaotic, and downright fun-to-watch choreography, and each costume serves to perfectly match its wearer—in this show, that means lots of eye-popping pink! All of this is set against beautiful backdrops, which also include plenty of pink touches.
The show, in fact, goes by in an all too brief pink blur, leaving the audience wishing for more time with Elle Woods and company. The opening night production did have more than its fair share of fumbled or outright forgotten lines, but if Elle Woods has anything to say about it, those will soon be smoothed out, making this show a perfect treasure.
SECOND OPINION: Oct. 10th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Zack Smith (who awarded the show 3 out of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/artery/archives/2012/10/10/omigod-you-guys-nc-theatres-legally-blondethe-musical-is-fun-but-thin; Oct. 10th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Glenn McDonald: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/10/10/2402836/review-legally-blonde-laughs-sings.html; and Oct. 9th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh preview by Larissa Mount: http://raleigh.broadwayworld.com/article/A-Sneak-Peek-at-LEGALLY-BLONDE-Playing-NC-Theatre-This-Week-20121009. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Triangle Theater Review’s Oct. 9th preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2012/10/omg-legally-blonde-the-musical-is-back-in-the-triangle-and-the-north-carolina-theatre-is-doing-it/.)
The North Carolina Theatre presents LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10-12 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 and 14 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $22.25-$84.75 (including fees).
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/1587720.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 5204 or http://nctheatre.com/tickets/group-sales.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13th performance.
The Novelist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Brown_(novelist) (Wikipedia).
The Film: http://www.mgm.com/view/Movie/1102/Legally-Blonde/ (official website), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250494/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legally_Blonde (Wikipedia).
The Musical: http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000332 (Music Theatre International), http://www.legallyblondethemusical.com/ (official U.K. website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legally_Blonde_(musical) (Wikipedia), and http://ibdb.com/show.php?id=423551 (Internet Broadway Database).
Laurence O’Keefe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_O’Keefe_(composer) (Wikipedia).
Heather Hach: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heather_Hach (Wikipedia).
Denis Jones: https://www.facebook.com/denis.jones.14 (Facebook).
Autumn Hurlbert: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autumn_Hurlbert (Wikipedia).