Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kravis Center: Legally Blonde (3 Reviews)

Legally Blonde is a musical based on the popular movie starring Reese Witherspoon. The National Tour opened at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, and runs through this Sunday.

Hap Erstein reviewed it for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Fresh is no longer an option since the movie sequel helped the perky, fashion-savvy Elle Woods character wear out her welcome and the charm probably all came from the film’s uber-appealing star, Reese Witherspoon.

It is not that the national road company is lacking. The largely young, peppy cast is up to the task of director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell’s calisthenic production numbers and bubbly Becky Gulsving is very reminiscent of Witherspoon in the central role. The problem is the flat, bland material, to which one can only say with disdain: “Omigod, you guys,” which also happens to be title of the show’s opening song.
But it's not all bad:
Still, Gulsving is a winning presence, more endearing than the show’s original Elle, whom she understudied on Broadway. Natalie Joy Johnson is a standout in the expanded role of lovelorn hairdresser Paulette...
Kevin D. Thompson reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:

On the surface, Legally Blonde: The Musical is a frothy romp, a candy-coated confection of bright costumes, high-energy dances and one pinked-out sorority sister.

Strip away the Technicolor trappings, however, and the show is, like, OMG, the ultimate girl power story that says it's OK to be who you are and to follow your dreams even if you're following them in pink Manolos while toting a Chihuahua in your designer purse.

Maybe it's a generational thing.

Elle Woods (Becky Gulsvig) is a living, breathing Malibu Barbie who's bubblier than 10 bottles of Moet.

Look for a hunky delivery guy who almost steals the show. Jerry Mitchell's splendid choreography (he's also the show's director) comes to life during such bouncy numbers as Whipped Into Shape and Bend and Snap.

Jan Sjostrom reviewed it for the Palm Beach Daily News:

Legally Blonde isn't supposed to be deep. It's supposed to be savvy, witty and visually delightful.

The production visiting the Kravis Center doesn't come close to the verve of the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, but it does retain a glimmer of its sparkle.

Becky Gulsvig as Elle Woods... has a pleasant musical-theater voice and she's easy on the eyes, particularly in the fetching ensembles designed by Gregg Barnes.

Unfortunately, the shapeless score, composed by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, and Heather Hach's dumbed-down book doesn't give her much to work with.

Despite its many shortcomings, Legally Blonde... is likely to be popular with audiences. It retains just enough of the original's strengths for willing fans to fill in what's lacking.

John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:

From the opening song ("Omigod You Guys"), it is clear that great energy and fun is found in the marriage of the music and lyrics to the script. The songs truly do fit the characters, and define moments of the show with the right style. The choreography and costumes are visually enjoyable, and the tunes are memorable. Becky Gulsvig is perky as Elle, though her singing voice becomes a bit forward and nasal at times, and she seemed a bit weary in the song "So Much Better." Jeff McLean sings the part of Warner to perfection (especially in "Serious"). He is needlessly the victim of some bad costuming that fails in making him the hunk he is meant to be, however, in more than one scene. Megan Lewis is a tad bland as Vivienne, aside from a few good lines. A dashing Ken Land as Professor Callahan does a fine job with "Blood In the Water." Natalie Joy Johnson as Paulette is talented but slightly inconsistent in her comic timing. D.B. Bonds is just right as Emmett. He is warm and appropriately understated.

Who would have though that such a fluffy movie could be made into such an audience pleasing musical?

Legally Blonde plays at the Kravis Center through March 22, 2009.

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