Tuesday, August 2, 2016

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey Legal Tender at Company Theatre

LEGALLY BLONDE, The Musical (playing through August 20th), based on the outrageous movie of the same name, is – well, I hope I don’t damn it by saying this – cute, very cute. Heather Hatch’s sorority story is a slow starter but Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin’s delightful songs get the engine moving so that by scene four, it’s purring along.

LEGALLY BLONDE’s saving grace is that even little girls (and there were lots of them when I attended) seem to know that it’s all tongue in cheek. At least I hope you can’t get into Harvard Law School merely by shaking up the stuffy academics with a shake of a pompom. (I must say the idea of a marching band invading those somber halls is mighty amusing). So see it for the silly songs, like “Bend and Snap” and for two stellar female performances in the Company production.

Sarah Kelly is utterly charming and just a wee bit “irritating” – (Mind you, she’s supposed to be, “She even irritates herself!”) – as Elle, the Delta Nu beauty who has to make herself over to get into Harvard (albeit for all the wrong reasons) and Kaleigh Rose Bradley brings down the house as Elle’s Irish step dancing, hairstyling partner in crime (solving). Bradley is a professional step dancer so you know choreographer Sally Ashton Forrest’s “Irish” finale will pop.

Opening weekend had a few glitches, like music director Steve Bass’ extremely LOUD orchestra (which often drowned out the clever song lyrics) and some very odd staging which I’m sure the directors have fixed by now, like the peculiar placement of the singing sorority sisters, all bunched up unevenly when there was plenty of room to spread out. That left me scratching my head, as did an awkward cross for an admissions dean who found himself on the wrong side of the marching band in the “What You Want” number. But that’s what opening night gremlins often wreak. By the time you see the show, I’m sure experienced directors Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman will have ironed out the kinks.

Look for some smart, cheeky turns from A. John Porcaro as the frightening shark of a law professor who can smell “Blood in the Water” from ten miles away and from Danny Bolton as the straight laced admissions chair totally overthrown by Elle’s all dancing, all singing “personal essay.” As they say in Gilbert & Sullivan’s MIKADO, “[He] doesn’t think he dances but would rather like to try.” Bolton’s amusing attempt nearly upstages the drum major. Speaking of (legal) scene stealing, Ryan Barrow as the UPS guy cuts quite a swath. Then he cuts an impressive rug, step dancing with Bradley! By the time the finale rolls around, you’ll be smitten yourself.