Beneath all that pink, Bloomington staging of ‘Legally Blonde’ is seriously fun
Moments before the start of “Legally Blonde” Saturday evening at Artistry in Bloomington, the house lights came back up. There was trouble with an actor.
One of the dogs featured in the show was being, in the words of director Angela Timberman, a “diva.”
That was the only performing hitch in this cotton candy pink confection. While “Legally Blonde” has trouble with a wandering story line and a generic score, it’s a fun ride as the game cast charges into every silly moment — and also finds space to deepen the message beneath all of the glam.
Adapted from the Reese Witherspoon movie, “Legally Blonde” follows Elle Woods (Angela Steele), a happy UCLA coed getting ready for graduation and a lifetime of wedded bliss to her beau, Warner (a perfectly creepy Alec Leonard). He has other ideas. Thinking that his career would be best served by a more serious partner, Warner breaks up with Elle and heads east to Harvard Law School.
Elle, as you do, decides to study hard, get into Harvard and win her man back. Of course, things don’t work out the way Elle hoped. She feels completely alone in Cambridge — until she begins to focus on her studies. With support from Emmett (Benjamin Rubenstein), a blue-collar kid who can almost taste a successful legal career, and Paulette (Mary Palazzolo), a salon owner who keeps Elle grounded, she earns one of the internships offered by super-scary Prof. Callahan (Paul R. Coate).
Even if you haven’t seen the original, the story is pretty easy to predict. Maybe that’s why the show’s creators spent a good chunk of the second act focused on Paulette’s budding love affair rather than the court case that will make or break Elle’s future.
That’s a shame, as Elle’s trip from seemingly vapid cheerleader to legal ace is not only a lot of fun, but carries a strong lesson: not so much “Don’t judge a book by its cover” as “Don’t judge yourself by how others see you.” This carries Elle through her own #MeToo moment and to her triumph.
The cast is great, with Steele leading the charge as the effervescent lead, whether leading a shopping expedition or emerging victorious in the courtroom.
The smooth-voiced Coate provides the musical highlight with “Blood in the Water,” one of the few times the score moves away from generic 21st-century Broadway pop.
Timberman’s direction makes the comedic and more serious moments work throughout. Special finger snaps go to costume designer Ed Gleeman and scenic designer Joel Sass for creating a dazzling world where the primary color is pink.
Ed Huyck is a Twin Cities theater critic.