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Theater Review: “Legally Blonde”

“Legally Blonde” plays through September 9, 2018 at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, Carlsbad.
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

Omigod you guys, that tenacious little b**ch Elle Woods is back in all that pinkness, intent on marrying that guy Warner Huntington III (Cody Ingram) even if she has to chase him to Harvard Law School and fend off the high-class chick he really wants to marry.

Yep, New Village Arts has joined the “Legally Blonde” brigade with a pop-inflected musical that makes fun of grasping women and unprincipled attorneys who sing of “Blood in the Water.” It plays through Sept. 9 with a cast of terrific singing and dancing actors.

Based on Amanda Brown’s novel and the 2001 MGM film, the seven-time Tony-nominated musical (with book by Heather Hach and music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin), “Legally Blonde” is directed with great panache by Kristianne Kurner.

Elle (Danielle Levas) has been trying to get Warner to pop the question for who knows how long, so when he invites her for a spiffy dinner before heading off to Harvard Law School, she’s expecting to get that rock. Instead, she gets dumped for not being sufficiently “serious” for his family and his legal ambitions.

Elle is nothing if not tenacious, so she decides to join him at Harvard. (I know, nobody with a degree in fashion merchandising “decides” to go to Harvard Law, but hey, this is musical comedy.)

Elle soon finds that she won’t get by on just her looks; she may actually have to crack a book now and then. But she befriends down-to-earth local hairdresser Paulette (played wonderfully by Marlene Montes), fellow student Emmett (Sittichai Chaiyahat), and the Greek chorus (Gina Maria Cioffi, Molly O'Meara and Allyce) and she’s on her way.

Meeting Warner’s new girlfriend, blueblood Viviene (Cassie Bleher) doesn’t improve Elle’s disposition – especially when Vivienne attempts to embarrass Elle by inviting her to a party, telling only her that it’s a costume affair. The Playboy Bunny getup amuses everyone, but not in the way Elle wanted it to. But watch out – Elle is capable of giving as good as she gets.

Most of the songs are cookie-cutter excuses for choreographer Kyle Hawk – the real star of the show – to keep the cast in nearly constant motion, and doing things most mere mortals can merely gawk at.

But “Blood in the Water” tickled my fancy (“You’re nothing until the thrill of the kill becomes your only law”), as did “Gay or European,” in which tall, debonair Nikos (Trevor Rex) is the subject of speculation.

Kurner has found several new faces for the major roles, bringing great acting and singing chops. Danielle Levas is excellent as the blonde bombshell who shakes up the hallowed halls of Harvard law, learning a bit about herself in the process.

Cody Ingram, also new to me, convinces as Warner and has a fine voice as well.

Cassie Bleher is also excellent as the properly serious Vivienne.

Sittichai Chaiyahat is great as bespectacled Emmett and a total hoot as Grandmaster Chad.

There isn’t a lot of substance here, though at least Elle finally realizes that using your brain isn’t a bad idea. “Legally Blonde” also has fun with several stereotypes, and that’s a good thing.

The details

“Legally Blonde” plays through September 9, 2018 at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, Carlsbad.

Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (760) 433-3245 or www.newvillagearts.org