Review of Legally Blonde The Musical at The Muny

    The Muny had to triumph over two floods to put on Thursday’s performance of Legally Blonde The Musical. I did not see the same show that went up Monday evening, but I liked what I saw.

    The first flood first forced the cancelation of the Tuesday performance reviewers were supposed to attend. Many of us were booked to see In the Heights at Stages St. Louis on Wednesday, so The Muny rescheduled us for Legally Blonde on Thursday.

    The Muny resumed the production on Wednesday, but after Thursday’s flooding, the orchestra pit and the new lifts at the front of the stage were unusable. The sound system had to be set up in another, smaller room for the orchestra, and the scenes that used the lifts had to be restaged.

    Thursday’s curtain was delayed a half hour to ensure everything was in working order, but the show did go on. I did not see the same show that went up Monday evening, but I was happy with what I saw.

    The character who inspired the epithet in the title is Elle Woods, a senior at UCLA majoring in fashion. She has a straight A average, but her boyfriend, Warner, fears she isn’t serious enough to help him fulfill the loft goals his family has set for him. He dumps he at the dinner where she Elle expects a proposal.

    Elle is no quitter. She decides to continue her pursuit of Warner by following him to Harvard Law School. Amazingly, her application is accepted, thanks to a highly choreographed personal essay.

    When she gets to Harvard, Elle finds she has a great deal to learn about being serious. She receives crucial guidance from Emmett Forrest, the teaching assistant in her class with Warner.

    Kyla Stone’s Elle is a charmer who has the spunk she needs to find success at law school that exceeds her expectations. Fergie L. Phillipe gives Emmett the sympathetic nature that prompts him to mentor Elle. As Paulette, Patti Murin captures the generosity of spirit that forges an immediate bond between Elle and her stylist.

    Sean Allan Krill is all smoothness and arrogance as the predatory Professor Callahan, whose internship is the prize to which every Harvard law student aspires. Hayley Podschun is delightfully in sync with Elle as Brooke Wyndham, the fitness guru on trial for murder. Dan Tracy makes it clear why Elle is attracted to Warner and why he doesn’t deserve her. In contrast, Shea Coffman makes UPS driver Kyle the ideal match for Paulette.

    Noteworthy supporting performances come Kerri George and Olivia Kaufmann as Harvard classmates of Elle’s and Kelsey Anne Brown, Gabi Campo, and Khailah Johnson as members of the Greek chorus of sorority sisters who appear in Elle’s mind.

    The space available at The Muny is exploited in both the direction by Maggie Burrows and the choreography by William Carlos Angulo. Burrows sets the UCLA scenes in and around a large swimming pool. Angulo uses nearly the entire width of the theater when the company leaves the stage and cavorts down the aisle between Tier A and the box seats. Kylee Loera’s video design ensures no one misses any of this number by capturing the action with a live camera and displaying the video on the large screens flanking the stage.

    The cramped, temporary quarters for the Muny Orchestra required a reduction in its size, but it still sounds terrific under music director Lon Hoyt. The excellent technical work includes Tim Mackabee’s scenic design, Leon Dobkowski’s costumes, Rob Denton’s lighting, Liz Printz’s wigs, and John Shivers and David Patridge’s sound. The splendid pair of dogs, Bruiser and Rufus, were provided by William Berloni.

    Attentive readers of this year’s Muny schedule may have noticed that the gap between shows in now two days instead of one. As a result, the cast of Legally Blonde The Musical has been engaged for one more day to make up for Tuesday’s rainout. The closing date is now Monday, August 1.

    —Gerry Kowarsky

    Photo by Phillip Hamer

    Kyla Stone (center) and the company of Legally Blonde The Musical at The Muny