McLean Community Players Legally Blonde the MusicalBy Rachael Murray • Jul 18th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
McLean Community Players
Alden Theatre, McLean, VA
Through July 29th
2:35 with one intermission
$20/$18 Senior, student or McLean resident
Reviewed July 15th, 2012
McLean Community Players’ Legally Blonde: The Musical is a cheeky load of fun. Everyone is probably familiar with the delightful Reese Witherspoon flick from a few years ago (and, for those who love bright colors and a thin plot, the sequel). It is the story of Malibu Barbie-esque Elle Woods, a senior Delta Nu sorority girl at UCLA. When her dense boyfriend Warner breaks up with her for someone a little more Jackie O, Elle decides to win him back by following him to law school. There, she begins to learn a lot about love, law, and herself. All this is touchingly and carefully woven together with a lot of bending and snapping. The musical version follows pretty closely, but, if you can believe it, fleshes out the characters and relationships even more in true musical comedy fashion: through song.
This production features a solid cast — particularly those in supporting roles. Elle’s sorority sisters, Pilar, Margot, and Serena, were exceptional as the vapidly supportive “Greek Chorus.” The sisters, played by Kim Braswell, Margaret Berkowitz, and Courtney Drake, are the glitter-glue that holds the show together. The ensemble members are all good singers and dancers, and they execute Chris Dore and Kathleen McCormack’s fun choreography well. It is apparent that all are clued into the cheese and goofiness, and this keeps the merriment going, even through a few clunky transitions. Director Mike Replogle milks every bit of funny he can from his cast. He has infused the correct amount of Hot Pink electric energy throughout.
The set design (Bill Brown) works well with the action. Though the story changes location several times, most set transitions worked smoothly. Lighting (Jeff Auerbach) was visually interesting, though at the performance I attended there were some late cues and missed marks, leaving a few actors in the shadows. Additionally, there were times where the sound levels needed adjusting, as some portions of songs were difficult to understand over the live music. The costumes (Ceci Albert and Lisa Brownstone) are bright and lively for the sorority sisters; earth-toned and boring for the East Coasters.
Legally Blonde aims to entertain, and that it does. It pokes fun at everyone and doesn’t apologize for it. If you are expecting a life changing experience at the theatre, don’t. Fully embrace the fluff with gusto. It’s silly, sweet, and sparkly– just as it should be.
Legally Blonde the Musical is not the simple one-dimensional tale it might seem to be. It is a triumphant story about anyone who has ever let others dictate his or her worth, in this case a sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend. She discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others, and the discovery that true worth is more than skin deep and greater than she ever could have imagined.
Legally Blonde the Musical was a success on Broadway and in London. The original cast included Laura Bell Bundy as Elle Woods, Christian Borle as Emmett Forrest and Richard H. Blake as Warner. Jerry Mitchell directed and choreographed. It received seven Tony nominations and ten Drama Desk nominations. The West End production was nominated for five Laurence Olivier Awards and won three, including the Best New Musical award.
The high-octane music and dance, together with powerful vocals and great comedic actors has made Legally Blonde the Musical a real labor of love. Not only for me, but for all us. Hardly a rehearsal went by that the upbeat, joyful (and silly); nature of this show did not infect the entire cast. I had decided early on that this show would be carried by great dance and music. The wonderful choreography you will see is due to the efforts of Chris Dore and Kathleen McCormack, a real monster duo to have on anyone’s team. All credit and thanks goes to them and the rest of my creative team, Music Director Bobby McCoy for his great support, Annie O’Neill and Kate Miller who were my brains, Ms. Linda Stone and Lynne Lawhead, our Producers for putting it and us all together. Love to my wife Janet and son John; I’ll be late again tonight!
Michael Replogle, AEA. SAG.
Photos by Traci J. Brooks Photography
Cast of Characters
- Margot: Margaret Berkowitz
- Serena: Courtney Drake
- Pilar: Kim Braswell
- Elle Woods: Kate Merryman
- Warner Huntington the Third: Mark Gray-Mendes
- Kate/Chutney: Beth Atkins
- Elle’s Dad/Professor: Brent Stone
- Elle’s Mom/Ensemble: Lindsey McClenathan
- Emmett Forrest: Matthew Lincoln-Bugge
- Aaron Schultz/Dewey: Quinn McCord
- Sundeep Padamadan/Carlos: Chris Gallegos
- Enid Hoopes: McKenna Weipert
- Vivienne Kensington: Stephanie Brown
- Professor Callahan: Paul Tonden
- Paulette Buonofuonte: Toby Nelson
- Brooke Wyndham: Rebecca Clary
- Kyle O’Boyle: Adam Newland
- Female Ensemble: Mariana Barros, Melissa Berkowitz, Celina Gomez, Tess Higgins, Lindsey McClenathan, Heather McElwain, Shauna Neil
- Male Ensemble: Gavin Cole, Chris Dore, Jerry Gideon, Jeremy McShan, Adam Newland, Jason Noone, Brent Stone, Nick Stone, Taylor Witt
- Bruiser: Shoskie
- Rufus: Sir Gordo
- Producers: Lynne Lawhead and Linda Stone
- Director: Mike Replogle
- Assistant Director: Annie O’Neill
- Music Director: Walter McCoy
- Assisted by: Lori Roddy and Tony Asher
- Choreographer: Chris Dore and Kathleen McCormack
- Stage Manager: Kate Miller
- Assisted by: Shayne Gardener and Sherri Singer
- Running Crew: Adrian Steel, Kyle Dennehey, Rachel Lawhead, Jennifer Levy, Candice Newman, Nancy Pruett, Lily Spinelli, Julia Walker
- Technical Director: George Farnsworth
- Set Design: Bill Brown
- Set Construction: Bernie Gmiter
- Assisted by: Bob Schroth, Bob Zeigler, George Farnsworth, Shayne Gardner, Bill Glikbarg
- Set Painting Design: Mary MacFarlane
- Set Decoration/Dressing Design: Nancy Perry
- Assisted by: Mary Macfarlane
- Properties Design: Jerry Gideon
- Lighting Design: Jeff Auerbach
- Master Electrician: Nathan Devonshyre
- Sound Design: Jon Roberts
- Audio Engineer: Zack Sanders
- Costume Design: Ceci Albert and Lisa Brownsword
- Make-up Design: Annie O’Neill
- Assisted by: Cast members
- Hair Design: Chris Dore
- Media Relations: Brent Stone
- Assisted by: Laura Dailey
- Publicity Team: Tula and Dell Pendergrast, Jenny Levy, Cathy Farnsworth, Patti Green-Roth, Columba Hoban, Alex Stone, Terry Yates
- Lighting Operator: Jesse Roberts
- Rehearsal Pianists: Tony Asher, Matt Jeffrey, Lori Roddy
- Master Carpenters: Bernie Gmiter and Bill Glickbarg
- Set Construction & Painting: Cathy Farnsworth, Bernie Gmiter, Bob Schroth, Bob Zeigler
- Auditions: Patti Green-Roth, Jen Levy, Kate Miller, Sherri Singer, Adrian Steel
- Reeds: Lindsay Williams, Mila Weiss
- Violin: Greg Hiser
- Trumpets: Terry Bradley, Vinnie Prinzivalli
- Trombone: Ryan Shofnos, Andrew Comparin
- Bass: Meagan Frame
- Percussion: Adam Ashforth
- Keyboards: Matt Jeffrey, Francine Krasowska, Lori Roddy
Disclaimer: McLean Community Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. MCP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio.net web site, which did not influence this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8306.
Rachael Murray is an actor, director, and teaching artist. She is a Virginia Tech alumnus with a Bachelor's of Arts in English and Theatre Arts. A relative newcomer to the DC Metro area, Rachael has participated as both an actor and director in a variety of projects at Virginia Tech and has worked as a teaching artist with Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, New York.