November 6, 2012

Blonde Ambition

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Omigod you guys — I know it’s cliché to begin a review of Legally Blonde with that phrase, but I couldn’t resist. Why? Since I viewed the show at Ithaca College on Thursday night I have been that strange girl walking around campus singing the songs to myself. It was so gaudy. It was so blonde. It was so fun!For anyone who has been living under a rock since the movie was released in 2001 or has been bitten by the sophistication werewolf, here’s a brief summary of the plot: Elle Woods, president of the sorority Delta Nu, is convinced that her boyfriend Warner (Richard Lindenfelzer) is about to propose. Elle is played by Megan Ort and Chloe Tiso in alternate performances. When Warner dumps her instead, Elle decides to follow him and enroll in Harvard Law School to win him back, and like a rock in a pond, dropping a blonde into an Ivy League school is bound to create a splash. There, she meets Warner’s new girlfriend Vivian (Katie Drinkard) and geeky, sweet Emmett Forrest (Joseph DiPietro). Through song, dance, sparkles and pink, Elle’s journey into a “serious” life begins and challenges everyone’s perceptions of law, love and blondes.The Ithaca College production of Legally Blonde was like a giant frosted cupcake: Each bite tasted better and I found myself liking it more every moment. Once you get over the fact that it will not be Reese Witherspoon bawling her eyes out in a crowded restaurant as Warner breaks up with her, you can truly begin to appreciate the casting. The scenes in between the songs were average; you realized exactly why the actors won their roles — their voices.  I hesitated in liking Elle, Emmett, Brooke Wyndham (Grace Stockdale) and Paulette (DeAnne Stewart) when they first took the stage, but once each actor sang I submitted to the sensory overload.While the actors were very talented, if I had bouquets to hand out at the end of the performance, all of them would have gone to the production staff. Tom Burch and Roy Lightner, along with their assistants Amanda Perry and Ryan J MacConnell, stole the show with their set designs and choreography. Transitions between scenes were flawless, largely due to the design of the backdrops and set pieces. But what I don’t think anyone in the audience could get over, myself included, was the immense, over-the-top style of nearly every song. Each musical number was a production in itself; the audience actually cheered during each song because of the spectacular choreography. For anyone who has seen this musical: the choreography for “Whipped into Shape” will not disappoint. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, the show is worth seeing if just for that single scene. The choreographers deserve all the praise I can bestow and then some; the musical numbers were simply amazing.The pit orchestra of the production was perfect, in that you never noticed it. Their playing was excellent, not overstepping the actors or overshadowing important moments. They provided the perfect background for the production. The costuming was incredible — so many sparkles, so much pink. I suppose my mind is still simply boggled and blinded by Elle’s outfit in the song “What You Want,” but I do give the costuming designers a great deal of props even once I have clear vision back without pink sparkles around the edges.I will not attempt to deny that Legally Blonde (the movie) is one of my guilty pleasures. While I like to pretend I sit around and watch things like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Godfather all the time, I have seen Legally Blonde more times than I would like to admit. Liking the movie as I do, I was impressed to find the musical “So Much Better” than I had expected. It is not a profound musical, but for anyone looking for an entertaining night to escape from the pressures of life, the Ithaca College production is worth every moment.

Legally Blonde is now playing at Ithaca College.

Original Author: Marissa Tranquilli