Review by Carol Montana, photos provided
FORESTBURGH, NY (June 29, 2012) – “Legally Blonde,” currently in production at the Forestburgh Playhouse is so much fun, it probably should be, well, illegal.
With music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, and book by Heather Hach, the play is based on the novel of the same name by Amanda Brown, and also based on the 2001 film. It opened on Broadway in 2007.
The story begins when girl – Elle Woods, a member of a sorority at UCLA – loses boy – Warner Huntington III – because he’s going to Harvard Law School and thinks she’s not serious enough for him. You really can’t blame him, since not even her parents take the “everything pink-loving” Elle seriously. So Warner breaks their engagement and Elle decides she’s going to Harvard Law School, too –to win him back.
Only in a theatre musical is someone accepted to Harvard Law School, not by passing the LSATs, but by bursting into the Dean’s office with a cheerleading squad backing you up and singing about love. But that’s what makes “Legally Blonde” so much fun!
Of course Elle’s classmates, including Warner’s new girlfriend Vivienne Kensington, make fun of and belittle her. But this is no dumb blonde, and classmate / teaching assistant Emmett Forrest, takes Elle under his wing. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for even Emmett to protect Elle from the pompous and arrogant Professor Callahan, who also happens to hold the students’ future in his hands.
In between her class difficulties and the witty and surprising conclusion, Elle meets up with Paulette, a life-affirming hairdresser, a fitness queen accused of murder, a UPS delivery man and other memorable characters.
Forestburgh’s “Legally Blonde” is well cast, keenly directed and masterfully choreographed by Dann Dunn.
Zoe Cassay, having wowed Forestburgh audiences in 2010s “A Chorus Line” and “Seussical” and in the role she was born to play – Lina Lamont in Forestburgh’s amazing “Singin’ in the Rain” – has found another perfect role for herself. Her bright and bubbly personality and ever-winning smile make Elle a character you care about and root for.
Vivienne Kensington is marvelously catty thanks to Jessica Wagner, and Emmett Forrest is sober and compassionate, and extremely likable because of Dan Fenaughty. Kevin Confoy’s Professor Callahan is flawless – arrogant and pompous and smarmy, and Katie Sarno plays Paulette with a positive, joyful and warm attitude.
Ex-boyfriend Warner Huntington III is performed by Michael Starr and he’s appropriately pompous, snooty and ambitious – well done as the character you love to dislike. And even the irrepressible Norman Duttweiler, Forestburgh’s Producing Director puts in a cameo as Elle’s father, and easily steals his scene.
Spectacular dance numbers include “Whipped Into Shape” with marvelous dancer Joyah Spangler as Brooke Wyndham, the joyful “Bend and Snap,” and a Riverdance type of routine with Katie Sarno and the UPS delivery man, Kyle, played by a gorgeous, strutting Michael Graceffa.
A winning combination all around, Forestburgh’s “Legally Blonde” has everything: lots of laughs, beautiful people, a zippy feel-good story, likable characters, and even some adorable dogs to steal the show and the hearts of the audience. This musical, these characters will make you think twice before you make fun of blondes again.
“Legally Blonde” is playing through July 8, 2012: Tuesday-Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 3:00 p.m., and a matinee on Wednesday, July 4 at 2:00 p.m. For tickets, call the Forestburgh Box Office at 845-794-1194 or go to: http://www.centerstageticketing.com/sites/forestburgh/showdates.php?s_id=237
For more information on this and the rest of Forestburgh’s 2012 season for both adults and children, visit the website at: http://www.fbplayhouse.org.