Perhaps I'm not the right person to review Legally Blonde: The Musical. I’ve haven’t seen the 2001 movie on which it’s based (or its 2003 sequel), and I certainly don’t fit the demographic that this touring version of the 2006 Broadway show attracts. On opening night, I was surrounded by teens and young women who clearly anticipated the jokes and who gasped audibly when wedding proposals were denied or offered.
Legally Blonde is a chick-flick sitcom of a musical. A lot of people enjoy that category of humorous storytelling. Although I’m not among them, I won’t deny them their preferred entertainment.
Alas, most of this show’s humor derives from caricatured stereotypes. We laugh at airheaded blondes and Valley Girls.
We jeer at the expense of silly gay guys and lesbians. We laugh at a down-to-earth hairdresser who ogles a UPS delivery man. We giggle at Harvard Law School, portrayed as a stuffy place that needs to lighten up.
Legally Blonde lionizes a spunky young woman who uses academia as a springboard to romance. Such attitudes offered humorously suggest it’s OK to believe such things ... though it’s not.
That being said, this is an energetic cast led by the bubbly Becky Gulsvig, playing “Omigod” Elle Woods, the sorority girl/cheerleader originated by Reese Witherspoon in the film. She has a piercing, sometimes grating soprano voice and the ability to pull of a lot of quick-witted humor. Elle espouses a philosophy of “believing in yourself” — something she says “never goes out of style” — which is portrayed as enough to place her first in her law school class.
The show has fluorescent costumes, imaginative scenery, athletic choreography, an academic “villain” and two cute dogs. Nevertheless, like most effervescent things that are fun while they last, this one eventually goes flat.
LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL, presented by Broadway Across America, continues through May 23 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.