Theatre Review: Legally Blonde

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 1, 2009

Comparisons between this theatrical version and the eight-year-old film that inspired it are inevitable. So you should know that the creators of this show have brought the characters, situations and many of the famous lines from the screen to the stage. Being a musical, elaborate dance numbers have been added. But instead of the pre-existing pop songs that studded the movie soundtrack, the stage version features an original score, which proves to be a mixed blessing.
(Song excerpt)
The songs in the stage version are bland and largely cut from the same cloth, which is a problem given that memorable tunes are the horses that pull a good musical. Other things about this show go better, including lead actress Becky Gulsvig, who has the requisite hair color, and is perky and cute and invincible – as was actress Reese Witherspoon in the film. But there’s not a lot of chemistry between Gulsvig and the leading man. And the story, of course, is all cotton candy fantasy and wish fulfillment. Which means that in addition to a weak score, there’s not much dramatic tension undergirding this sweet creampuff over the course of two and a half hours.

Don’t get me wrong, “Legally Blonde” is not a BAD production. It’s more a case of modest achievement, an adaptation that’s less memorable than the source. I’d actually be tempted to retitle this one “Forgettably Blonde.”

(music out)