Pretty in Pink: “Legally Blonde” Review

BENJAMIN K. PAPLHAM | ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

It’s not every day that someone gets into Harvard Law School for the sole reason that, “love never accepts defeat”. But Elle Woods is not a typical student—she is a peppy, pink-suit-wearing optimistic force of nature. Luckily for those of us (including heartless cynics like me) who probably would have rejected Elle from Harvard given the administrator’s position, she perseveres in a world that values conformity over originality.

With only a month to rehearse, St. Norbert College’s student-run organization Knight Theatre performed the musical-comedy “Legally Blonde” from January 25-29. In the adaptation of the 2001 movie, California native Elle Woods (played by Sarah Hibbard ’17) enrolls in Harvard Law to follow/stalk her ex-boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Adam Mayrer ’18) and prove to him that she can be “serious”. However, while painting her dog’s (yes, the production used a real dog!) toenails bright pink is adorable and leaving textbooks unopened is great for keeping them in mint condition, it does little to contribute to her credibility as a law student. It takes the assistance of hairdresser, Paulette Bonnafonte (Kiera Matthews ’19), and classmate Emmett Forrest (Evan Osgood ’18) to prepare her for the courtroom, where she discovers that all it takes to succeed is simply to be herself.

“Legally Blonde” is not a musical with emotional, show-stopping power like “The Phantom of the Opera”; rather, it’s similar to the slick, rhythmic style of “The Music Man”. It works well for the show because much of the humor in “Legally Blonde” is based on timely pauses in the music, using the orchestra as a device rather than an accompaniment.

Speaking of timing, Knight Theatre’s performance could think of “time” as either its best friend or worst enemy. Starting with the latter, it was apparent that the set design suffered from the schedule crunch. The minimalist set consisting of four Greek columns (though none followed the Doric, Ionic or Corinthian structure) often failed to invoke the corresponding environment for each scene. Gaps between the outer columns and offstage also left the orchestra and backstage cast/crew exposed to the audience more times than not.

On the other hand, having only a month to put together a musical flashes in the blink of an eye, so it makes the coherency and fluidity of the overall production that much more impressive. Each of the main characters had their moment in the limelight, and delivered well—Hibbard with the number “Legally Blonde”, Osgood with “Chip on my Shoulder”, Matthews with “Ireland”, Mayrer with “Serious” and Zac Dickhut ’19 as Professor Callahn with “Blood in the Water”. Hibbard especially impressed, surviving a flurry of costume changes and musical numbers, and still maintaining a bubbly energy throughout the performance.

Overall, Knight Theatre put on a musical with average music—the tunes are entertaining in the moment but not particularly catchy or memorable—with an above-average production value. The talent and enthusiasm of the performance given the short rehearsal schedule is remarkable, and a testament to the dedication of everyone involved in Knight Theatre.

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