In her “Note from the Director” for Cary Players’ community-theater presentation of Legally Blonde the Musical, Nancy Rich says “[T]his show might appear to be a lightweight ball of fluff,” but rather “has depths that belie superficial appearances.” And she’s right. To begin with, the performance level is high and energetic, and her direction and choreography are sophisticated, clever, polished, and pointed.
With music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and a book by Heather Hach, Legally Blonde is well written and explores the world of law education and our social attitudes toward both blondes and stereotypes. It is funny and bubbly, and the fun it pokes is tempered with some sharp jabs.
When the curtain rises, a Malibu sorority girl, jilted by a snobbish social climber who is heading for Harvard (and looking for a more career-enhancing partner), chases him to Cambridge, MA to win him back. Instead, she successfully navigates her way through the vagaries of law school and, thus, finds her own self-worth.
Elle Woods, the well-cast protagonist of the show is played with style and verve by A. C. Donohue, who commands the stage from opening to final curtain, occasionally accompanied (and mildly upstaged by) Brady Xavier Bunch in the role of Bruiser.
Emmet, the law student who gives Elle moral support and valuable mentoring as she forges her way into maturity, is portrayed by Daryl Ray Carliles, whose Emmet uniquely parallels Elle’s growth, displaying character in caring for what’s right and standing up for another person.
Mark Ridenour, as Professor Callahan, the hard-nosed “Cambridge Don,” terrorizes and intimidates his students with a steely fierceness and aggressive style. Paulette, the hair dresser who befriends Elle and also has her own story of bewilderment and overcoming, is in the capable hands of Natalie Turgeon who delights us with her song “Ireland.”
Noelle Barnard Azarelo plays Vivienne, and makes us love disliking her as she torments Elle. Kyle, the UPS guy who wows us with his moves and posturings, is hilariously created by Steve Whetzel.
Elle defends the murder case of Fitness Queen Brooke Wyndom. Randi Winter dances and sings this role for us with extraordinary power and grace. Warner, Elle’s cad ex-boyfriend comes across as a real jerk as performed by Douglas Price, who brings out the cold-blooded nature of the character.
Del Flack is superb in three parts, most notably, Dewey the trailer-trash ex-boyfriend who tries to keep Paulette’s dog from her. The dog, Rufus, is well played by Ava, a German Shepherd Boxer mix. Ruth Berry does fine and believable work as Enid, an amusing lesbian classmate at of Elle’s at Harvard.
The cast rounded out with an ensemble of “Delta Nu” girls and Harvard law students whose performances are all highly commendable, led by dance captain Sarah Preston. This production is filled with snap.
Set designer Ami Kirk Jones and master carpenter Todd Houseknecht are to be lauded for the versatile and quickly changed set pieces, and praises also for the running crew who make it all happen.
Lighting by Mia Carson and costumes by Billie Pierce add to the overall visual effects of the story. Music director Darylene Hecht and her six-piece band keep the beat lively and give great support to the marvelous voices that fill the room.
Make your reservations soon for this wonderful spring hit!
SECOND OPINION: April 24th Cary, NC preview by Jessica Patrick: http://carycitizen.com/2015/04/24/theater-legally-blonde-premieres-tonight/; and April 22nd Cary, NC preview by Jessica Banov: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/cary-news/article18927783.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the April 27th Triangle Review review by Pamela Vesper and Kurt Benrud, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/04/a-musical-as-good-as-legally-blonde-should-be-illegal/.)
The Cary Players present LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL at 7:30 p.m. May 1 and 2 and 3 p.m. May 3 in the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary, North Carolina 27511.
TICKETS: $20 ($18 students and seniors 55+), except $17 per person for groups of 20 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 800-514-3849 or http://caryplayers.org/tickets/.
2014-15 SEASON: http://caryplayers.org/season/current-season/.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 3 p.m. Sunday, May 3rd, performance.
Amanda Brown (novelist): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Brown_(novelist) (Wikipedia).
Legally Blonde (2001 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).
Legally Blonde the Musical (2007 Broadway and 2009 West End musical): http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000332 (Music Theatre International), http://ibdb.com/show.php?id=423551 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legally_Blonde_(musical) (Wikipedia).
Nell Benjamin (music and lyrics): http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=405997 (Internet Broadway Database).
Laurence O’Keefe (music and lyrics): http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=405999 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_O’Keefe_(composer) (Wikipedia).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.