As musical theater goes, “Legally Blonde the Musical” has it all -- songs with hooks and tightly written lyrics, energized choreography and a story of personal transformation and empowerment to move things along.
The Pittsburgh CLO production makes the most of all of these, delivering an evening of fun with everybody's favorite pink-clad law student.
When Delta Nu sorority sister Elle is dumped by her Harvard Law School-bound boyfriend Warner, she's devastated: He tells her he needs someone serious -- “less of a Marilyn, more of a Jackie.” Determined to win him back, she follows him to Harvard and gets accepted into law school, where she learns a big lesson -- that a fashion-savvy blonde can have the brains and instincts to become a successful lawyer and her own person.
Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone hits the right notes as Elle, and not just musically. Her comic timing is spot on, and she makes the most of the character’s funny side, creating an engaging character that audiences want to root for. Ms. Monteleone has also played Elle in the national touring company production.
While Elle is often the center of attention, there are plenty of roles that give other cast members a firm place in the spotlight. Mamie Parris plays Paulette, Elle’s hairdresser pal, and her scenes are always hilarious. Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Matthew Scott is appealing as Emmett, the hardworking student who juggles law school with two jobs and teaches Elle how to apply herself to academics.
Two cast members come with heavy stage credentials, and they aren’t even bipeds. Chico, who plays Bruiser -- Elle’s Chihuahua -- is a former rescue dog who played the role on Broadway and is pictured on the original poster for the show. Nellie, who plays Paulette's English bulldog Rufus, is a veteran of the “Legally Blonde” national tour. When Chico makes his first entrance early in the action, he gets a big round of applause just for running out on stage. Nellie is greeted later on with similar enthusiasm.
The pace of this happy celebration of sisterhood and girl power never flags, with several blink-and-miss-it costume changes.
This show’s staging requirements are challenging. There are many scene changes, and the action switches from hair salons to clothing stores, college campuses to court rooms, dorm rooms to trailer parks. An imaginative set design defines these places with minimal yet colorful elements. Scene changes are fast and fluid, and as much fun to watch as the show itself.
The show’s wall-to-wall musical numbers move rapidly, and this production doesn’t feel like its 2 1/2-hour run time. The high octane “What You Want,” “So Much Better,” “Whipped Into Shape” and the signature “Legally Blonde” segments will stay with audiences long after the curtain goes down.
Adrian McCoy: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1865.