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I am not a fan of the film version of Legally Blonde. Of all the movies that would effectively translate into a musical, I would never have expected this to be one of them. However, it’s been almost two hours since I saw the Orange County Performing Arts Center’s production of Legally Blonde: The Musical, and I still can’t stop smiling. I also can’t get the infectiously catchy songs out of my head.
Wall-to-wall music, I don’t think there’s more than five minutes of spoken dialogue to be found. Thanks to it’s lively and upbeat soundtrack, they have managed to keep everything people love about the film intact while still appealing to those like myself who aren’t interested in the source material.
For those who don’t know, the story itself focuses on Elle Woods, a seemingly ditzy blonde who happens to be extremely intelligent. When her Harvard-bound boyfriend dumps her, telling her that she needs to be “less of a Marilyn and more of a Jackie,” Elle decides to go to Harvard herself and prove that she is not the dumb blonde that she appears to be. The rest of the story takes place at Harvard as she attempts to win back her no-good ex and win a trial that will prove her worth as an attorney.
The cast is uniformly fantastic. Her sorority friends prove rather grating throughout, but I enjoyed all of the other performances. It’s apparent that the cast has studied the film, and despite occasionally bordering on impersonation, everyone manages to bring enough of themselves to make these characters their own. A particular standout was Ken Land as her professor. He couldn’t have played the role of a sleazy lawyer any better, and did a particularly great job with his menacing number “Blood in the Water.”
Everybody involved seemed to be having a blast in their roles. The audience really fed off of this energy and everyone in the theater seemed to have a great time. There isn’t a whole lot of substance happening on stage, but this isn’t that type of show. It exists simply to entertain and it did this in spades. The singing talent on stage was very impressive, and while there was the occasional standout power moment, the music was mostly light and fun. The occasional dance numbers were also thoroughly entertaining.
I was also really impressed with the production values on stage. I knew it was going to look good, but I wasn’t expecting it to look as good as it did. Utilizing fantastic sets and extremely creative scene transitions, they were able to pull the audience into this world. It felt as if the story took place all over Harvard, not just a simple classroom and hallway. There was also a really creative use of a colored border around the stage. This was manipulated throughout the production in order to draw our attention to wherever the focus needed to be.
The play was way better than it should have been. It’s a really random choice of source material, and I was really afraid that it wasn’t going to work. It ended up a success thanks to a fantastic combination of great writing, music, and production values. Overall, the entire audience seemed to love it, and while I wasn’t expecting this, I highly recommend catching this production before the end of its run on September 20. You won’t be disappointed.
Tickets are available at OCPAC.org, at the Center’s Box Office or by calling (714) 556-2787.