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The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor
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Legally Blonde musical remake musters mediocracy

Like, OMG, a flop! Okay, in all fairness, Broadway mega-hits are not meant to be shown on television, where the liveliness is usually lost and the music does not surround a viewer.

With a few rare exceptions, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s and Tim Rice’s 1982 Broadway-to-movie productions, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and the recent Hairspray, placed highest among the ranks, success for shows transferred to TV is limited.

But let’s face it. Legally Blonde: The Musical is not a mega-hit and I was begging for commercial breaks by the second act.

The new musical, based on the 2001 film of the same title, was probably one of the most anticipated Broadway productions of 2007. It contained all the potential to become a hit show. Names listed among the cast are those of Broadway stars associated with Tony Awards: Laura Bell Bundy as the starring role, Jerry Mitchell as choreographer and director, and a score by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin.

With such a star-studded team, one might expect Legally Blonde to outshine even its movie predecessor.

Not so.

Legally Blonde (originally a book by Amanda Brown) focuses on Elle Woods, the pink-clad Miami-born blond bombshell with a knack for heading sororities and designing faux-fur attire. After being dumped by her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, she determines to impress him by attending the Harvard School of Law, thus winning back his heart.

Along the way, Elle, companioned by her loveable Chihuahua, digs deeper into her blond roots and proves that she not only can withstand the stereo-typical dumb blonde syndrome, but that it takes a girl with real heart and an amazing sense of fashion to take the legal world by storm.

By the end of her tale, Elle gets the right guy (while Warner swims and sinks) and is valedictorian of her class.

In the film, Reese Witherspoon starred as Woods and she delved into her character with a kind of dedication found in seasoned actresses double her age. She gave Woods the right amount of sweet optimism and intelligence.

After watching the musical adaption, as recently premiered on MTV, I truly believed that Bundy was as dumb as her snobby Harvard classmates assumed.

I want to make it clear that Bundy, despite her hit-and-miss concerning Woods, is an outstanding performer. She has a huge voice and memorable movements, yet the script and music did not quite give the audience a feel for the brains beneath the blonde. Whereas Witherspoon captured the character’s unerring benevolence despite surrounding negativity, the play’s scriptwriter seemed to forget that Elle’s big heart keeps her from poking fun at anyone.

The songs performed by Bundy, while impressive vocally and visually, were forgettable. Even her big Act I finale, “So Much Better”, escapes my memory. Only the “Bend and Snap” routine, which Witherspoon made famous in the film, still sticks in my mind. The catchy “Chip on My Shoulder” stands as a close second.

Of course, that may be because the song was sung by Christian Borle, starring as Emmett, Elle’s new romantic interest. Borle, most remembered for his role in 2005’s best musical (as voted by the committee at the Tonys), Spamalot, charmed his way across the stage with a quirky attitude and brainy demeanor.

Meanwhile, Elle’s old flame, Warner (Richard H. Blake) sounded vaguely like an N*Sync member. Vivienne (Kate Shindle), Elle’s arch-nemesis, sang a total of one chorus yet blew me away with her brief but powerful vocals and demanding presence. Shindle seemed like the most seasoned singer, yet they botched her talents by shoving her in the background while making way for often-mediocre performances.

The very fact that Legally Blonde: The Musical was fully aired on MTV barely four months after opening week, an unheard of act in the world of successful Broadway, speaks volumes in my book concerning the show’s popularity.

While I am glad that I caught the show on television rather than having to spend the money for a ticket (which, by the way, MTV is offering at a “special price”), Legally Blonde will probably remain victorious over teenage fans of the film. Despite a completely unimpressive show, Legally Blonde‘s high energy and encouraging message gives it a fair chance for a relatively long run at the Palace Theater.

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  • D

    DaxDec 16, 2009 at 6:47 am

    This is an awesome picture, Madison!

  • L

    LisaDec 16, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Great picture Maddy; what a fun morning we had!!